Former Premier League striker and BBC Radio host Noel Whelan has backed Liverpool to sign Borussia Dortmund superstar Jude Bellingham in 2023.
The lowdown: Jurgen Klopp speaks
As the Reds returned to training for pre-season ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, manager Jurgen Klopp opened up on the perennial links with a move for Bellingham, stating that the only issue with the teenager was that he is ‘not on the market’ this summer.
Those comments from the Anfield boss will no doubt add further fuel to the already fever-pitch speculation that the 19-year-old will be heading to Merseyside in 2023.
Outside of Klopp and sporting director Julian Ward reentering the market for an alternative or potentially even a stop-gap, that would mean the Liverpool midfield department is made up of Thiago, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson in terms of senior frontline options this season, with the depth provided by younger players.
The latest: ‘Number one target…’
He said: “They’ve gone out and spent quite a lot of money this summer. Carvalho has come in, and they’ve spent a staggering amount on Nunez as well – which is their answer to the Erling Haaland deal.
“The question is – do they need any defensive midfielders? They’ve got Milner, Henderson, Fabinho, as well as other players who can make an impact. Do they need to force a transfer through for the sake of it?
“We know who their number one target is. It’s Jude Bellingham – and they’ll be moving for him next year. Man City might have made their move a bit earlier by getting Kalvin Phillips in – but Liverpool may be waiting until next season in order to get their man.
“I don’t expect it to weaken Liverpool this season if they do wait around. I’m not expecting it to be a one-horse race. It’s still going to be an intriguing and exciting season in the Premier League.”
The verdict: Worth the wait
If it is as simple as Bellingham or no one this summer, it would be worthwhile in the long run to wait for the 15-cap England sensation, given the potential in the short term and the longevity on offer.
Perhaps a midfield addition could still be necessary in this window if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should force a move away before the deadline, but that is not currently the case.
Already an established performer for club and country, the prodigiously talented star was hailed as an ‘extremely intelligent’ and ‘sublime’ operator by journalist Josh Bunting following an 8.50 Sofascore rated display which included a goal, assist and five successful dribbles in a 2-1 victory over Besiktas during the 2021/22 campaign.
Overall, Bellingham has directly contributed to 34 goals in 134 senior outings in what is still a fledgeling career, highlighting an eye for impacting matches in the final third.
Sharing similar stylistic traits to Liverpool’s own Keita, Lazio superstar Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Barcelona wonderkid Pedri (Fbref), the former Birmingham prospect looks certain to enjoy a fruitful and distinguished time at the elite level and the Reds will want to be the platform on which all of his talents can be harnessed, even if that means waiting a year.
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