English Premier League club Liverpool FC has confirmed the acquisition of RB Leipzig’s Guinean midfielder Naby Keita for a club record deal.
According to Sky Sports News, the Reds will pay the £48m release clause that will allow Keita to join the club, as well as an undisclosed premium.
The move now makes the 22-year-old, not only Liverpool’s most expensive signing ever, but also the most expensive African footballer ever.
Keita joined Leizpig Red Bull Salzburg in 2016 and scored eight goals in 31 Bundesliga appearances last term to help them to a second-place finish.
Following the move, he expressed his delight but reiterated that he would remain fully commited to his current club.
“I am delighted that an agreement has been reached which will allow me to join Liverpool Football Club next summer, when I will become part of a project that excites me greatly,” he said.
“My commitment to RBL remains absolute for the remainder of my time at the club. I have given my all every time I have worn the shirt – that will be the case until the final whistle, in my final appearance.
“Having my future resolved means I can now focus on helping RBL achieve great things this season. Until I join my new club, next summer, I will remain an interested supporter from a distance.”
Before Keita’s move, two other Liverpool players were the most expensive African footballers – Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah (£36.9M) and Senegalese forward Sadio Mane (£34M).
Earlier this year, the Confederations of African Football made a host of changes to African football, changing Africa Cup of Nations Dates from January to the summer when European leagues are shut.
Analysts and former footballers alike lauded the move, saying it would make African footballers more attractive in European leagues, ultimately raising levels of African football back home.
After Keita’s Liverpool move, the 2018/19 season could potentially see Liverpool deploy four Africans in its first team, the fourth being Cameroonian defender Joel Matip.