A Liverpool move for Borussia Dortmund striker Youssoufa Moukoko could be hijacked by Man City, and the outlook on their long-awaited Jude Bellingham pursuit isn’t faring much better, per reports.
Much is expected of Liverpool in the market come 2023. Midfield is where the bulk of the action will lay, though other areas of Jurgen Klopp’s squad could be addressed too.
One such position is centre-forward given the ongoing uncertainty over Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian is out of contract next summer and the Reds have their eye on 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko.
Firmino has done little wrong in a Reds shirt and is still adored by Klopp. However, Liverpool must be wary of large sections of their squad being on the decline at the same time and Firmino is now 31.
Moukoko already has bags of experience despite his tender age. He’s already made over 50 senior appearances for Dortmund and regularly leads the line for Edin Terzić’s side.
Moukoko has four goals and four assists to his name in the Bundesliga this year – eye-catching statistics for someone so young. He’s also shown he’s a man for the big occasion when scoring in the 2-2 draw against Dortmund’s bitter rivals Bayern Munich on October 8.
Moukoko’s current contract expires at season’s end and an internal dispute among his family is emboldening him to not pen fresh terms.
Details of that murky situation can be found here, but the end result could be Dortmund having to cash in in January. Either that, or Moukoko can leave as a free agent six months later.
Football Insider recently reported Moukoko is poised to sign with England-based agency, Unique Sports Management, when he turns 18 on November 20.
The outlet claimed that is a move that will tee up a Premier League switch, with Liverpool the likeliest destination at present.
Liverpool could be left empty-handed
However, a fresh report from FI has delivered a hammerblow in the form of Pep Guardiola’s Man City.
The reigning EPL champions have ‘joined the race’ to sign Moukoko. What’s more, the presence of Moukoko’s former teammate at the Etihad, Erling Haaland, could aid their cause.
There is no indication as to how much Liverpool or City would have to pay to sign Moukoko in January.
His high potential would suggest a deal won’t come cheap, though his contract status – only six months left come January – will weaken Dortmund’s position.
Bellingham outlook fares little better
Elsewhere, arguably an even bigger prize is that of Jude Bellingham.
Liverpool’s midfield is in desperate need of an overhaul and Bellingham has been earmarked as the perfect addition in 2023.
Competition will be fierce, with Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea and Real Madrid all in the running.
Yet reports last month from CBS Sports claimed that of all the English suitors, it was Liverpool who had put in the most groundwork.
What’s more, Bellingham’s decision on who to join – if he does leave D0rtmund, of course – won’t solely be down to money. That’s a factor that’s sure to please Reds owners FSG given the teams they’ll be bidding against.
However, according to transfer insider Graeme Bailey, a Bellingham switch to Anfield in 2023 is growing increasingly unlikely for two reasons.
Reporting exclusively for TEAMtalk, Bailey claimed FSG are unlikely to go above £100m for Bellingham.
Dortmund won’t have any trouble commanding a figure that high, and while money isn’t Bellingham’s sole motivator, it will play a big part for Dortmund.
Secondly, Bailey reckons Dortmund are “confident” they’ll get another season out of the Englishman after the current campaign. As such, a move in 2024 – not 2023 – might be more likely.
Aside from their Bellingham travails, speculation is growing Liverpool could sign a lesser heralded midfielder in January.
Bailey namechecked Wolves’ Ruben Neves and RB Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer as viable candidates for a winter window switch.
If FSG are serious about backing Klopp, they cannot put all their eggs in the Bellingham basket.