Amidst the ongoing transfer saga between Rasen Ballsport Leipzig and Liverpool for Naby Keïta, Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick has landed himself in some hot water with the Guinean midfielder and his entourage with controversial comments.
Rangnick remarked that Keïta had had his head turned by "a whole village in Guinea", as the 22-year-old was supposedly keen for a move away from East German club, and tempted by Liverpool's highly-publicised interest in him.
While speaking at a coaching convention in Bochum, Ragnick said: “The boys themselves are not the problem here. It is their surroundings,”
“A whole village in Guinea or somebody from their entourage tells the players why they must do something right away. I can’t blame the players.”
The Leipzig sporting director has since attempted to justify his comments, which were criticised by many as inherently racist.
“I know Naby from the very first day when he came to Salzburg, we therefore have a very close relationship, also to his adviser. We are in a trusting exchange. That is exactly what I said in my lecture in Bochum," Ragnick said, as quoted by the Guardian.
It is clear that Rangnick has become irritated by Liverpool's continued interest in Keïta, while Leipzig having already turned down two bids for the highly rated midfielder. However, while attempting to clarify his words he may have provoked further ire.
“Behind many players with an African background, and I’ve met a lot of them, there is a clan and sometimes a whole village, that lives from the help of one football player. And it’s the case that there are people behind Naby, that demand his transfer,” he added.
“Believe me, my knowledge in geography are good enough, to differentiate between Guinea and Africa.”
Following this latest development in the Naby Keïta transfer saga, Rangnick and Leipzig remain adamant the the 22-year-old will not be sold this window, with his release clause not coming into effect until summer 2018.
There has, however, been rumblings of a third bid being submitted by Liverpool - following Ragnick's controversial comments and a training ground bust up - in a last ditch effort to bolster their midfield ahead of the new Premier League season.