LIVERPOOL are close to sealing an extension with Naby Keita as he enters the final year of his contract.
Keita has arguably been a very rare blemish on the Reds’ near-flawless record in the past few years.
Yet Kop money men are keen to keep the Guinea midfielder, 27, despite a mixed time at Anfield since his £52.75million moves from RB Leipzig in 2018.
That is because it would cost a fortune to replace Keita in their squad and they would prefer to retain him even if he is not first choice.
Keita could be talked into staying put if the terms are right after winning every major trophy with the Reds.
He was ruled out of Liverpool’s shock opening day draw against Fulham through illness.
Keita saw pal Sadio Mane leave Anfield this summer for Bayern Munich as Jurgen Klopp shuffles his pack.
Klopp splashed a fee rising to £85m on Benfica’s Darwin Nunez to replace Mane.
And it is a move Liverpool legend Pepe Reina hailed as a game-changer heading into the new season.
Reina said: “Darwin and Mane are two great players of a certain stature.
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“Let’s find out what Darwin can bring to the squad with the help of his team-mates.
“But this swap makes sense and it can be a great thing for the club.
“Liverpool have a great variety of players but they needed someone who can hold up the ball and play one-two passes.
“And thanks to Darwin they are perfect in attack.”