RB Leipzig on Thursday again told Liverpool that Naby Keita will not be moving before next season, amid reports the Merseyside club want the Guinea midfielder immediately to replace Philippe Coutinho.
Keita, 22, already has a contract with Liverpool which comes into effect on July 1, but having completed the sale of Brazil star Coutinho to Barcelona on Monday for 160 million euros ($192 million), Liverpool are reportedly keen to bring Keita to Merseyside early.
The Germans issued another firm “hands off” ahead of the end of the Bundesliga winter break this weekend.
“We have always said that there is no reason for us to let him go sooner. Therefore he will be playing for us against Schalke at the weekend and hopefully playing well,” said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl on Thursday.
In November, RB Leipzig also ruled out Keita joining Liverpool earlier than planned.
Countinho’s departure has changed the situation at Liverpool. German daily Bild report the Reds are prepared to pay 15 million euros extra to sign Keita this month.
German magazine Kicker says Keita has not been impressing in training in a bid to force the German club’s hand.
Kicker say RB Leipzig will get 75 million euros ($90m, £66.7) for Keita if they qualify directly for the Champions League next season, which will drop to 65 million euros if they fail to qualify for Europe.
The German club, who are fifth in the Bundesliga, have repeatedly said they need their midfield dynamo to help them qualify again for the Champions League.
With success in both the Premier League and Champions League paramount for his side, City will need to keep his squad fit for the second half of the season if they are convert their strong from into silverware.
Here, we look at three acquisitions that would be most welcome to Pep’s first-team make-up.
Will any of these deals happen?
The prolific Chilean striker was the key man for Arsenal last summer but, having stalled on a new contract, looked set to leave despite scoring seven goals and providing three assists in 19 matches this season.
Sanchez’s contract at the Emirates Stadium is up at the end of the season and Guardiola is confident of acquiring the 29-year-old for a cut-off fee this month, although Manchester United have made a late attempt to hijack the deal.
A knee injury to Gabriel Jesus has given the club a push to land Sanchez in a bid to bolster their attacking options as they continue to compete on all fronts this term.
Sanchez’s greatest asset is his pace and eye for goal, an area that could add more firepower to an already star-studded forward line featuring Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Jesus.
Imagine the frightening prospect of Sanchez lining up alongside Aguero for the second half of the season.
West Brom centre back Jonny Evans has been the subject of heavy interest from Manchester City as Pep Guardiola seeks cover for an injury-stricken defence.
The highly-rated Northern Irishman is a man in demand, and City will have to fend off interest from Arsenal to land the star defender.
A fee of £25m should be enough to get the deal over line this month – although Baggies boss Alan Pardew will do all he can to keep the 30-year-old at the Hawthorns.
With John Stones still very much learning on the job at the heart of the City backline and add to that Vincent Kompany’s constant injury problems, Evans’s leadership qualities would make him a fearsome addition at the Etihad Stadium.
A move to the Sky Blues would guarantee the potential to win trophies, but it is unlikely he will see first team action on a regular basis if both men are fit.
The German has cemented himself as a key player for Borussia Dortmund since joining from 1860 Munich in 2015.
One of the hottest properties in the Bundesliga, Weigl’s understanding of the game is beyond his years making the epitome of the Dortmund team.
The 22-year-old has only made 16 appearances for Dortmund this season after returning from a broken ankle suffered last May, but looked sharp in recent wins over Mainz and Werder Bremen.
From intercepting the opposition’s attacks to setting his side away on the counter, the midfielder looks like an instrumental presence with Guardiola keen to add his services to his outstanding side.
With Yaya Toure and Ferdinandho both out of contract in the summer, Weigl could come in as a long term replacement for the Manchester club.
At 22, his best years are yet to come, which represents another significant boost for the Sky Blues going forward.
The move puts Manchester City‘s pursuit of the Chilean in jeopardy, whose contract at the Emirates Stadium runs out in the summer.
Sky Italia and The Guardian claim United are prepared to outbid their crosstown rivals for the 29-year-old while also offering the player a higher wages.
Here, we look at how some Manchester United fans reacted to the news on Twitter.