Liverpool must be prepared to spend top whack to land Europe’s best players if they want to make an impact in the Champions League this season, Dietmar Hamann has told them.
The warning from the former Reds midfielder comes amid claims Liverpool are prepared to shatter their transfer record on RB Leipzig star Naby Keita, who will reportedly cost around £70million.
And Hamann believes Liverpool must be prepared to spend whatever it takes to land the likes of Keita and fellow target Virgil van Dijk if the Reds want to become one of Europe’s best sides once again.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Hamann said: “Would £70million put me off buying Keita? No!
“Just getting through the play-off round and into the group stage of the Champions League would pay off a big chunk of that fee.
“With Keita on board, Liverpool would have an even better chance of getting through.
“You can question the fees being mentioned for the likes of (Virgil) van Dijk and Keita, but if you want the top players you have to pay the going rate.
“It’s no good saying the market value is £30million because you aren’t going to get someone like that for that fee.
“If Liverpool had to pay £60million or £70million to get Keita it wouldn’t worry me. You are buying a top player for years to come.”
Leipzig have steadfastly insisted that Keita is ‘not for sale’ but Hamann believes every player has their price.
“If you buy a player for £15million and you get offered £70million for him a year later, it’s going to be very hard to turn down,” he added.
“It’s a huge fee. As much as Leipzig are in the Champions League and want to be successful themselves, I can’t see them turning down £70million if the player is pushing for the move. Apart from Bayern Munich, any club would think about it.
“Liverpool’s interest has been well known for a while so it wouldn’t surprise me if they have already got a replacement for Keita in the pipeline.
“Leipzig have the best academy in the league so it might be the case that it frees up a space for an outstanding youngster coming through.
“Sometimes the fee is so good you have to let a player go. I think that will be the case with Keita.”
Keita ‘worth every penny’
Hamann has spent a lot of time analysing Keita’s progress in his role as a German TV pundit and the former Newcastle and Liverpool hero believes the 22-year-old Guinean is worth the money.
“I knew about him before he signed for Leipzig from Salzburg as he was one of the most highly rated young players in the Austrian league,” Hamann said.
“I saw him quite a lot last season and he had an outstanding season. He made a big impression in the Bundesliga.
“Signing for a promoted side, no-one knew what to expect and he was under the radar for a lot of people. But in the second half of the season everyone knew about him and still couldn’t stop him. Leipzig were the closest challengers to Bayern Munich and he had a huge impact.
“He reminds me of N’Golo Kante. I’m not sure he wins quite as many balls as Kante, but in terms of technical ability and getting involved further forward he’s more gifted than Kante.
“Kante is a holding midfielder who doesn’t really create or score. But Keita can really play. He can play two positions – deeper or more advanced.
“He isn’t shy about putting a shift in. He’s strong in the tackle and he’s got good feet. Going forward, he’s clever with his runs.
“He’s pretty sharp and uses his body well with a low centre of gravity.
“It’s rare that you get a midfielder these days with those kind of all-round talents.
“People talk about box to box midfielders but it gets harder and harder because the game is too quick now. Few midfielders can affect a game at both ends but he’s one of them.”