Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita was ‘one step away’ from joining Barcelona in the summer of 2017 before eventually agreeing a deal to join the Reds, according to a report from Spain.
The Guinea international has figured prominently under Jurgen Klopp in his first season at Anfield this year, and has enjoyed an increased run of games in the second half of the campaign.
However, according to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, Keita was actually ‘one step away’ from joining La Liga giants Barcelona in 2017, and that the club’s former technical secretary Robert Fernandez had held several meetings with the 24-year-old’s agent.
The report claims that a deal to sign the midfielder was virtually all agreed between the two parties, but Ernesto Valverde’s side then encountered two obstacles: an increase in the transfer fee needed to sign him, and the player wanting to ‘feel both sporting and emotionally wrapped up in this new challenge’.
Further to this, Mundo Deportivo claim Keita demanded a net salary of €7m which was met with disbelief by the Catalan side, and that neither Fernandez nor Valverde were inclined to promise him a place in the starting eleven.
Subsequent to Barcelona pulling out of negotiations, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool entered the frame, and agreed a deal to bring the RB Leipzig star to Anfield in the summer of 2018.
Keita and his Reds teammates take on Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night in the first leg of the sides’ Champions League semi-final tie.