Jurgen Klopp has laughed off claims that Naby Keita is looking to leave Anfield before the September 1 transfer deadline as Liverpool continue to be linked with a potential replacement in Ismael Bennacer.
AC Milan schemer Bennacer has been mooted as a target for Klopp all summer. If there is a weakness in the German’s squad it could be seen as the central midfield area with a number of options currently unavailable to him.
The German coach had to field a patched up midfield in the draw with Crystal Palace with Fabinho supported by Harvey Elliott and James Milner, who were both substituted.
Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones are currently sidelined and Klopp’s options are few and far between.
Keita was an unused sub in the 1-1 draw at Anfield and his future has come under the microscope.
The 27-year-old is supposed to be unhappy with his game time at Liverpool, according to Sky Germany. Reporter Florian Plettenberg says talks over a new deal have hit the buffers. That has prompted suggestions Liverpool could allow Keita to move on this month.
Keita ‘not overly happy’
Klopp admitted Keita was “not overly happy” about not playing. But he said there was “absolutely nothing” in talk about him leaving.
Klopp told a press conference: “It is funny, I have to respond on ‘news’ but if you learn on my side 0.0% is behind the news. What can I believe at all when I ready newspapers?
“Naby there’s absolutely nothing, he was ill for a week and was on the bench last week and is fully in training. He’s not a player overly happy when he’s not playing, but it’s all completely fine.
“Nobody came to me and asked me about anything, apart from you.”
Whether or not Keita’s entourage are working on things behind the scenes is unclear. But Klopp insists he is unaware of any issues. Keita though is out of contract next summer and he has not fulfilled his potential after arriving for a then club-record £52.75m in July 2018.
In fact he can talk to foreign clubs in January. For that reason Liverpool will most probably have their feelers out for a potential replacement.
Bennacer turns down Milan contract
That, if reports in Italy are believed to be correct, could come in the former of 24-year-old Bennacer.
Calciomercatoweb state Liverpool are interested in paying the €50m release clause in his San Siro contract. But with the player so far refusing to sign a new deal at the San Siro they will hope that a deal can be done.
Bennacer’s €1.7m-a-year contract runs out in June 2024, and as per Calciomercato.com, he has rejected an offer worth €3m per year.
Bennacer wants to double his current wages, so there is not too much disparity between the parties. But Liverpool officials are watching on and Il Corriere dello Sport confirm Bennacer has admirers at Anfield.
Milan boss Paolo Maldini is though keen on agreeing a new deal with the player. He is not looking to sell and in addition is looking to replace Franck Kessie, who joined Barcelona after the end of his contract in the summer.