Fireworks are expected after Manchester United and Liverpool both earmarked Jude Bellingham for a summer transfer, though Ralf Rangnick is fighting a losing battle with the Red Devils over a second deal, per a report.
The Borussia Dortmund teenager, 18, is already one of European football’s most coveted midfielders. He is already a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England squads, and but for the superb Declan Rice-Kalvin Phillips pairing, would be a sure-fire starter.
Predictably, his rapid rise since moving to Dortmund has attracted the attention of England’s heavy hitters.
Caught Offside reported last week that Liverpool harbour genuine hopes of landing Bellingham in the summer.
Jurgen Klopp’s connections could prove crucial, though they will now face stiff competition from Man Utd.
Bellingham Man Utd’s ‘first-choice target’
That’s according to the Athletic (via the Daily Mail), who state Bellingham is now United’s ”first-choice target’ to revamp their midfield.
Bellingham is the club’s preferred target, but West Ham’s Declan Rice is also admired.
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Both players could cost upwards of £100m to sign. David Moyes previously declared the bidding for Rice would start in nine figures. Similarly, German newspaper Bild reckon Bellingham could command at least a £100m fee.
But while potential deals for those elite targets will have to wait until the summer, Rangnick is battling to reshape his midfield right here and now.
Rangnick at odds with Man Utd as January move stalls
Amadou Haidara has been identified by United as a player who could aid their fortunes this season.
The 23-year-old is fond of Rangnick from their shared time together at RB Leipzig. The Daily Mirror recently claimed a ‘verbal agreement’ had been reached over a £33m switch in January.
The Athletic confirm Rangnick ‘would support’ a move for the Mali international. However, he is facing an uphill struggle to convince United’s decision-makers to act.
The Mail add that United are ‘reluctant’ to sanction that type of potentially short-sighted deal when they have superior targets in their crosshairs for the summer.
Denis Zakaria had also been linked with the Red Devils, though the outlet conclude he is no longer wanted.
Liverpool, Man Utd monitoring Barcelona situation
Meanwhile, Ronald Araujo has become of interest to Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea amid a contract stand-off with Barcelona, according to reports.
The 22-year-old is facing an uncertain future at Camp Nou. His contract with Barcelona expires in 2023 and his terms remain the same as those he was on as a B team player.
Araujo wants to stay with Barcelona. However, he knows he deserves a salary more appropriate to his role in the club now. Therefore, Diario Sport report that several clubs are keeping an eye on Araujo’s situation.
The Catalan paper claims Barcelona are already aware of interest from the Premier League trio of Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea.
United turned to La Liga to strengthen their defence in the summer. Raphael Varane arrived from Real Madrid, but the impact has not been immediate. Besides, there have been further questions of captain Harry Maguire alongside him.
As for Liverpool, they also signed a defender before the start of this season. Ibrahima Konate joined the club from RB Leipzig, taking his place in the squad alongside Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Nat Phillips.
But a lack of gametime for the latter duo has raised questions over their futures.