A highly reputable source has now claimed that Liverpool are “increasingly unlikely” to sign Jude Bellingham this summer.
It is the news that many of us were fearing, or even expecting, after ongoing reports that Bellingham was the club’s priority target for the next transfer window.
The Athletic‘s David Ornstein has reported that Liverpool are now “increasingly unlikely” to beat the likes of Real Madrid and Man City to a deal.
He explains that “the anticipated fee, the financial power of rival suitors and their reticence about entering a bidding war at the level expected has cast significant doubt on Liverpool’s chances.”
This comes with Dortmund eager to retain Bellingham if at all possible, and with no release clause in his contract a fee considerably higher than £100 million has been touted.
Man City and Real are not the only other suitors, either, with Man United and Chelsea among those to have also been credibly linked in recent months.
The “bidding war” concern is a familiar one, with Liverpool rarely – if ever – entering direct competition with other clubs in a transfer pursuit.
Instead they rely on background work in convincing a target it is Anfield or nothing, as was the case when they signed Virgil van Dijk ahead of Man City in 2018.
Bellingham was hoped to have been sold on the project under Jurgen Klopp, rather than any financial incentives – though the Reds were claimed to be preparing a sizeable package for the 19-year-old.
Ornstein does maintain that “it does not mean their pursuit is off,” but though “no firm decisions” have been made, Real and Man City are in “stronger positions.”
This, of course, contradicts reports elsewhere when it comes to Real, with sources in Spain suggesting that they would not be able to match up to Liverpool in terms of finances.
But as noted elsewhere in the report, the scale of the rebuild within Klopp’s squad this summer could spread Liverpool’s resources thin.
At least two other midfielders would be required along with Bellingham, with Chelsea‘s Mason Mount and Wolves‘ Matheus Nunes both linked.
Either way, the situation will put focus back on owners Fenway Sports Group, whose attempts to seek external investment over the past six months have brought further scrutiny over their approach to recruitment.
Under FSG, Liverpool have not been shy of paying record fees for players seen as priority targets, with Van Dijk a prime example along with Alisson, Naby Keita and Darwin Nunez.
But, in this case, they could be seen as also-rans in a transfer race that has been widely painted as one that could define the summer.