Premier League • England

Jude Bellingham exclusive: Liverpool in dreamland after major Klopp fear dismissed, as insider drops Chelsea, Man City and Real Madrid truths

Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund midfielder, during UEFA Europe League, Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund vs Glasgow Rangers

In an exclusive interview with Ben Jacobs, TEAMtalk has learned Liverpool are leading the race to sign Jude Bellingham in the summer and a major fear has been dispelled.

The England ace, 19, is widely understood to be Liverpool’s primary transfer target in 2023. Bellingham is already a world class midfielder despite his age and the Reds have foregone lesser heralded midfield signings in favour of waiting for Bellingham.

It’s a risky strategy, especially with heavyweight competition being provided by Man City, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

However, speaking exclusively to TEAMtalk, reporter Ben Jacobs has shed new light on what the future holds for England’s newest superstar.

Among the topics discussed were Chelsea’s bidding power, the ramifications of Liverpool missing out on Champions League qualification, and a comprehensive update on who leads the race and how they’ve achieved pole position.

“Jude Bellingham hasn’t decided anything categorically,” said Jacobs. “And why should he because ultimately, he’s got a massive amount of suitors and it’s going to be the big race over the summer.

“It’s fair to term Liverpool and Real Madrid the frontrunners, but Manchester City are certainly ramping up their own efforts.

“And when I say frontrunners, I mean Liverpool and Real Madrid have put in the legwork. They’ve worked the family side, they’ve got strong connections with the player, they’ve discussed what a deal might look like.

“And to get a player like Bellingham, you have to window-plan and work far in advance and a consistent narrative is really key.

“So the player buys into the short term, the long term, the manager, the owners, the city, the financial package. And this is what Liverpool and to a slightly lesser extent, Real Madrid have done.”

Liverpool pitch differs to real; UCL implications detailed

Jacobs added Liverpool have pitched the idea of Bellingham becoming the main man in the spine of their team in the years to come. Real’s pitch, meanwhile, has generally centred on their illustrious history and looking to the past, not future.

Man City trail their two rivals at present, though the reporter stressed they can and do intend to make up the ground.

Elsewhere, BILD’s Christian Falk reported Liverpool may be forced to delay a Bellingham transfer by a year if they miss out on Champions League qualification this season.

However, Jacobs indicated the Reds may be able to “get away” with not having UCL football on offer and at present, are “certainly ahead” in the chase.

“I think that those three clubs, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester City are the most likely destinations with Liverpool certainly ahead in the process at the moment,” continued Jacobs.

“But Manchester City and Real Madrid are more likely at this stage to have Champions League football next season.

“And that, again, is why long-term planning is so important because Liverpool and Chelsea will find this with targets.

“They may well might be able to get away with not having Champions League football in one season. That’s if the player believes in the project and really wants to join, and they’re only going to be in that scenario if they trust you, if they’ve spoken to you over a long period of time.”

Jacobs continued: “That’s what gives Liverpool a bit of confidence.”

What about Chelsea?

The Telegraph’s Matt Law recently reported Chelsea intend to be a contender in the race and the last six months have shown they’re willing to blow any and all sides out of the water financially.

However, Jacobs stressed that while the Blues will be a factor, they’re by no means a frontrunner in the race.

Furthermore, Chelsea have other irons in the fire regarding Arsenal target Declan Rice and have already splashed out a British transfer record fee (£106.8m) for a central midfielder in Enzo Fernandez.

“With Chelsea, I think they always want to be involved in these races but there is a smaller chance of success at this stage,” added the reporter.

“They’re certainly not the frontrunners. But if Chelsea spend big then they can inflate the market. And as a consequence, there’ll be certain suitors potentially that don’t want to meet Chelsea’s valuation.

“That’s the other thing in all of this that you’ve got to be able to negotiate with Dortmund as well. And nothing’s been fully decided with Dortmund yet either.”

The Bundesliga heavyweight retain slim hope Bellingham will pen a new contract in Dortmund. His current deal expires in the summer of 2025.

However, Jacobs does not believe that scenario will unfold and instead outlined what is likelier to transpire.

Likely Dortmund outcome over Jude Bellingham

“Scenario number one is there’s no new [Dortmund] deal, and I still think that is the more likely scenario, Jacobs continued.

“Scenario number two is that Bellingham signs a new deal, potentially with a release clause that is around the number that Dortmund want. That then sets a yardstick and protects the value.

“In return, Bellingham will probably get a shorter term spike in his package, which he can use as leverage for a future move.

“So signing a new deal these days in football doesn’t mean you’re locked in, it can actually be signed with a view to moving and that’s exactly what we saw with Christopher Nkunku who signed a new deal before quickly agreeing a summer move to Chelsea soon after.”

Jacobs noted the growing financial power of the Premier League could result in Real Madrid being forced to back out.

That is a scenario predicted by the Athletic, with Jacobs adding Bellingham would need to make it crystal clear he wants Real above all others if they’re to compete with the English sides.

If Bellingham favours Real, they may be able to secure a deal at a lower price point, just like Barcelona were able to do when signing Raphinha from Leeds Utd despite a higher bid from Chelsea.

However, for the time being at least, there’s no indication Bellingham favours Los Blancos.

In conclusion, Jacobs confirmed Liverpool are prepared to “throw everything” at Bellingham even without the guaranteed riches of Champions League football next year.

But with Real Madrid, Man City and Chelsea not backing down as yet, Jurgen Klopp and his recruitment team cannot afford to let their foot off the gas.

A Bellingham transfer is all but guaranteed to cost upwards of £100m. Any such deal would smash Liverpool’s transfer record and may well surpass Enzo Fernandez’s British record set just last month.

READ MORE: Klopp favourite receives ‘contacts’ over next move as Liverpool fear damaging exit to European giant