Why Liverpool have decided against pursuing a move for Jude Bellingham has emerged, and Jurgen Klopp’s worst nightmare of seeing the England ace join Man Utd could come true, per reports.
It’s no secret Jude Bellingham was Liverpool’s priority transfer target heading into what’s shaping up to be a monumental summer window at Anfield.
The England ace has a huge admirer in Jurgen Klopp who appeared content to forego midfield additions in favour of landing Bellingham at a later date.
With the likes of Arthur Melo (loan expiry), Naby Keita, Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain (free agency) and potentially James Milner too all departing, a midfield rebuild has gone from being a luxury to a necessity.
However, despite courting Bellingham throughout the entire season, Liverpool have reluctantly pulled the plug on their pursuit.
The Athletic’s James Pearce, Daily Mail’s Dominic King, the Times, Telegraph and Guardian all reported as much. In a word, Liverpool’s Bellingham chase is over.
Why have Liverpool pulled out?
Explaining why, the Guardian reported the cost of signing Bellingham would detract too much from the club’s overarching plans for a squad overhaul. In other words, Liverpool cannot afford to blow most of their budget on one player when so many new signings are required.
The Telegraph cited a £115m transfer fee, while the Guardian claim Dortmund will actually hold out for £135m. Both of those figures are prior to add-ons and agent’s fees and the player’s sky high salary would be on top too.
Regardless of the exact fee Dortmund demand, it’s now clear spending upwards of £100m on any single player is not viable for the Reds. The fact they’re likely to miss out on the riches of Champions League football next season is playing a role in their thinking too.
The Guardian claimed Jurgen Klopp has called on Liverpool’s hierarchy to act swiftly in the market this summer to avoid a repeat of missing out on Aurelien Tchouameni last summer, for example. The Reds did bid for the French destroyer, though were seen off by Real Madrid.
Bellingham will no longer be among those Liverpool chase in the coming months, though five other midfielders are confirmed as being on their radar.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount, Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, Matheus Nunes of Wolves and Ryan Gravenberch of Bayern Munich were listed by the Guardian. The Telegraph listed many of the same names while also including Conor Gallagher in their report.
Man Utd pick up where Liverpool left off?
Bellingham’s three primary suitors had widely been reported to be Liverpool, Man City and Real Madrid.
However, the Telegraph claimed in mid-March Man Utd had quietly entered the race. Their latest update doubles down on that claim and their outlook on a deal that would require a new British transfer record has grown rosier over the last four weeks.
Key to how much United are given to spend this summer (takeover aside) is qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The Red Devils have won their last two in the league and currently sit fourth in the table. They hold a three-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham who have also played a game more.
But even more encouragingly for United is the anticipated late-season charge by Liverpool has shown no signs it’ll materialise. Both they and Chelsea look certain to fall short even if they do find form.
The Athletic recently reported Man Utd are gunning for a new box-to-box midfielder this summer once a new centre-forward has been signed.
The Manchester Evening News listed Frenkie de Jong and Jude Bellingham as their two highest profile targets. That was subsequently echoed by the Daily Mail who added Declan Rice to the mix.
If the thought of missing out on Bellingham wasn’t bad enough for Klopp and Liverpool, the notion he may wind up at Old Trafford too will leave them restless.