Barcelona wanted RB Leipzig's Naby Keita before Liverpool deal - Mintzlaff
RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has said Liverpool beat Barcelona to the signing of Naby Keita, adding that Barca "didn't try as hard" to get him.
Guinea international Keita, 22, will join Liverpool at the end of this season, with Leipzig having blocked an immediate move as they prepared for their first Champions League season.
Speaking to Sport Bild, Mintzlaff said the persistence of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had helped secure the deal.
Asked whether Klopp's determination had been key, he added: "That's right, even more so because Barcelona were also interested in Naby Keita.
"This was confirmed to us by Barcelona, but obviously they didn't try as hard as Liverpool."
Keita will move to Anfield for more than his €55 million release clause, with Mintzlaff saying the deal not only "gave the player more security, but also left us with a significantly higher transfer fee."
He added: "He wanted the transfer this summer. But [Leipzig sporting director] Ralf Rangnick told the team that we will not sell any players [at that time]," he said.
"This was not lip service -- it was set in stone. Had we released Keita, other players might have come up with a similar idea."
Sweden international Emil Forsberg was linked with a move to AC Milan in the last transfer window, while Germany forward Timo Werner is expected to be in demand next summer.
Mintzlaff admitted that Leipzig might not be able to hang on to those stars, adding that they would have to consider big offers.
But he added: "Fundamentally, we don't want to sell any player."
Following their 4-1 Champions League win at Monaco on Tuesday, Leipzig are still in with a chance of reaching the knockout stages.
In their last group match against Besiktas, they must better Porto's result against Monaco because the Portuguese side have won the head-to-head.
"We wanted to go into the Istanbul match with a small chance," Werner told reporters. "We've achieved that now.
"We want to give our supporters a good match -- and if we get the cherry on the cake and advance, that would be perfect."
Coach Ralph Hasenhuttl, meanwhile, said: "It could happen that we are relegated [to the Europa League] with 10 points. That's madness.
"Even though it's no longer in our hands, we can at least try to win our last match. We'd have played a very good first ever Champions League campaign then."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.