Premier League • England

Liverpool get to work on massive offensive for breakout World Cup star, as alternative £100m+ deal put on the backburner

Julian Alvarez, Enzo Fernandez and Rodrigo de Paul

Liverpool have begun talks with Benfica for the signing of a hugely impressive World Cup player, according to a report – and it could see them pass up on the opportunity to land Jude Bellingham.

The Borussia Dortmund ace has been tipped to join Liverpool next summer. The Reds are in desperate need of a midfield revamp and Bellingham looks like the perfect man to kickstart it.

He has already captained Dortmund in the Champions League, despite being only 19 years old, while he is a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England side.

Recent reports state Liverpool are at the front of the queue to sign Bellingham, ahead of Real Madrid. This is because the teenager currently prefers the idea of joining Liverpool.

They will have to spend a huge amount of money to sign Bellingham. Valuations of the player vary, but he could cost as much as €150million (£129.5m).

Now though, it seems Liverpool are looking at signing an alternative midfielder to bolster their ranks.

According to Goal’s live transfer blog (10/12, at 12:45), which cites Portuguese newspaper Record, Liverpool have initiated talks with Benfica over the prospective transfer of Enzo Fernandez.

The 21-year-old is currently on international duty with Argentina. And he has enjoyed a fantastic tournament, helping Lionel Messi and co. reach the semi-finals. They will come up against Croatia in the last four on Tuesday.

Enzo Fernandez shining amid Argentina World Cup push

Along with Cody Gakpo and Goncalo Ramos, Fernandez has been one of the breakout stars of the tournament. He has been impressive for Benfica this season too, but it is World Cup displays that are really getting big clubs excited.

And now it seems a move to Anfield is on the cards. Liverpool have reportedly begun discussions over his availability. And the Reds want to sign him as early as January, too.

But the report doesn’t provide much more information than that. It does state Fernandez’s Benfica release clause is worth €120m (£103m), although that is about as helpful as it gets.

Perhaps taking a look at Benfica’s stance over Ramos is a good idea. On Saturday, it emerged Benfica had come to a ‘final’ decision over the striker’s future – they will not sell him this winter, no matter how much any potential bids are worth.

Benfica could take this same stance when it comes to Fernandez. This would see them reject Liverpool’s advances for the midfield enforcer not too long after they had begun.

Fernandez is clearly a brilliant player who has the ability to join one of Europe’s most illustrious teams in the near future. However, it is hard to see Liverpool snubbing Bellingham.

He is playing in a harder league right now and is arguably one of the best players in it. Plus, given Bellingham’s nationality, it is highly likely he will want to feature in the Premier League soon.

Another factor to consider is Jordan Henderson’s relationship with Bellingham. He is nurturing the former Birmingham City man while they are both on international duty.

If Bellingham looks up to Henderson as much as it seems, then he could be convinced to move to Merseyside.

Meanwhile, Liverpool and Chelsea are apparently in a ‘duel’ to capture a Sheffield United gem.