Talk that Liverpool are prepared to pay whatever it takes to land rampaging midfielder Naby Keita from Red Bull Leipzig continues to reverberate.
The Guinea international was one of the emerging stars of last season’s Bundesliga, his eight goals and seven assists from 31 appearances helping the promoted side to an incredible second spot plus automatic Champions League qualification.
But despite the 22-year-old’s undoubted talents, here are three reasons why the Reds might be better suited splashing their cash elsewhere.
Transfer fees just continue to rise in the Premier League, turbo boosted by enormous television deals and savvy commercial departments.
Yet even in this vertiginous climate, a quoted fee of £70 million (Dh332.7m) for a player who has experienced only one – admittedly – fantastic campaign in Europe’s top-five leagues seems extortionate. He has also never kicked a ball in the group stage of the Champions League, or featured in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Even in the heated market of today, it is surely not inappropriate to expect a show of proven calibre for an enormous expense which would shatter Liverpool’s record.
For a price comparison, 24-year-old Alvaro Morata will probably lead the line for Spain at next summer’s World Cup and only ineffable Barcelona forward Lionel Messi recorded a superior goals-per-minute ratio in 2016/17 in La Liga.
Yet Manchester United, hardly renowned for their transfer-market savvy, are expected to pay the same or less for his services from Real Madrid.
A regular groan from Liverpool supporters last term came from the draining effect of conceding set-piece goals.
During last season’s rollercoaster run to fourth place, Jurgen Klopp’s men conceded 12 from dead balls – the ninth-highest in the division. This was considerably more than the sides that finished above them, with Manchester City letting in nine and runners-up Tottenham Hotspur and champions Chelsea just seven.
For all Keita’s qualities, a hulking physique is not one. Standing at just 1.72 metres (5 ft 8 in), he is not an obvious solution to this problem despite the quality of his headed goal against Werder Bremen last October.
Being small is no problem, though a balance is required in an XI. None of Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana or Mohamed Salah come close to 1.83m (6 ft).
Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante may be even smaller, but he had the colossal Nemanja Matic for company.
When you are potentially spending £70m on a player, it is pertinent to look well into the future.
Guinea might not have qualified for this January’s Africa Cup of Nations, but with Keita within their ranks they will be aiming to make the 2019 tournament. Syli Nationale have been regular competitors in the competition, making the quarter-finals in four of the last five editions.
Klopp’s probable starting line-up for 2017/18 and beyond would contain a trio of Africans with Keita’s capture, as he teams up with Senegal’s Mane and Egypt’s Salah.
With the competition going on when the British fixture list is at its fiercest, their absences could severely hamper Liverpool’s efforts.
The absence of Mane alone for this winter’s competition put the side in a tailspin. Between January 2’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland and February 1’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, the Reds won just one of their seven games in all competitions.
With a trio of key players absent, this impact would be felt even deeper.