Liverpool have agreed a club record deal for Naby Keita, but the Guinea international will not be joining Jurgen Klopp’s side until next summer.
The RB Leipzig midfielder had Liverpool’s number one target this summer, but the deal appeared to be dead after RB Leipzig rejected a second bid worth £70million for the midfielder.
However, Klopp’s intention was always to return for Keita in 12 months time and Liverpool have now come to an agreement with Leipzig that will see him join for the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Keita had a release clause of £48 million that could have been triggered next year but Liverpool have paid that fee and a considerable supplement on top to ensure they got their man.
The 22-year-old arrived in the Northwest on Monday for a medical and he will then return to Leipzig, who will play in the Champions League, for the rest of this season.
This has the potential to be a busy week for Liverpool and Thomas Lemar, the highly-regarded Monaco winger, could usurp Keita as the club record signing before midnight on Thursday.
Lemar, who has been pursued by Arsenal and Manchester United this window, is one of a number of Monaco players whom Liverpool have enquired this summer, the others being Paris Saint-Germain target Kylian Mbappe and Benjamin Mendy, who joined Manchester City.
It would take a fee of more than £70 million for Liverpool to stand any chance of prising Lemar away from Monaco, as the French champions have indicated they do not want to lose any more of the squad that reached the Champions League semi-finals last season.
There have been reports in France that it would take close to £100 million for Monaco to consider sanctioning Lemar’s sale but an alternative for Liverpool would be to use Divock Origi as part of any deal; the Belgian would be allowed to leave if there was a suitable offer.
Liverpool are insisting that the clubs sudden activity in the transfer market has nothing to do with Philippe Coutinho’s future.
But Liverpool are not a club known with big money purchase, and if they can add Lemar as well as Keita, that can only mean that they have agreed to sell Coutinho to Barcelona.