4 times Liverpool ‘pulled out’ but still signed the player: From Alisson to Van Dijk

With Liverpool reported to have withdrawn interest in Jude Bellingham, there are similarities with four other eventual transfers at Anfield.

After months and months of pursuing the Dortmund youngster, Tuesday night brought the news that Liverpool had pulled out of the race to sign Bellingham.

The 19-year-old has been deemed too expensive, with SPORT1 journalist Patrick Berger claiming Dortmund are seeking €150 million, and now alternative targets will be focused on.

That is, if reports from journalists on Merseyside are to be believed, of course.

With the sudden release of the news of Liverpool’s U-turn over Bellingham, it is widely believed that the club have leaked the information, leading many fans to question why.

Could it all be part of their negotiation tactics? Four previous stories suggest it is at least possible.


Naby Keita – 2017

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 19, 2018: Liverpool's new signing Naby Keita during a preseason friendly match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Ewood Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A transfer saga that excited fans but proved to be a cautionary tale – and one which could even be used as an example if the Bellingham deal has, indeed, collapsed.

Interest in Keita first emerged in March 2017, with the club pivoting to the Guinean upon the failure to sign either Mahmoud Dahoud or Piotr Zielinski the previous summer.

Soon after, RB Leipzig insisted their player was not for sale and chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff claimed it would be “negligent” to agree a transfer.

Liverpool saw three bids rejected before the Mail‘s Dominic King reported in July 2017 that the club had “abandoned their pursuit” of Keita.

Just over a month later, the club confirmed a club-record deal with Leipzig that would bring Keita to Anfield the following summer – sadly, he has failed to live up to the hype.


Virgil van Dijk – 2017

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, January 5, 2018: Liverpool's new signing Virgil van Dijk, who joined from Southampton for £75m, a world record for a defender, during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 230th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reports over Van Dijk’s switch to Merseyside first cropped up in December 2016, with then-Southampton manager Claude Puel forced to dismiss “speculation.”

Fast-forward four months and James Pearce reported in the Liverpool Echo that the club were prepared to break their transfer record to sign the Dutchman.

Van Dijk agreed to join Liverpool in June 2017, only for the transfer to collapse dramatically.

Two days later, the Reds had withdrawn their interest in a public statement that saw them apologise to Southampton for the way in which they handled negotiations.

But after the club avoided tapping-up charges, Van Dijk submitted a transfer request in August, with a £75 million deal confirmed by December.


Alisson – 2018

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Saturday, August 4, 2018: Liverpool's new signing goalkeeper Alisson Becker signs autographs for supporters after the preseason friendly match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at Landsdowne Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“[Klopp will] seriously consider offering [Danny] Ward the chance to make the No. 1 jersey his own at the club,” the Mirror‘s David Maddock famously wrote in July 2018, adding that there were “absolutely no plans” to target Alisson.

Claims of Liverpool’s interest in Alisson initially broke in Italy, as early as January 2018, with this soon corroborated by the Times‘ Paul Joyce.

However, after reports of initial contact in February, Joyce claimed the club were “ready to end their interest” and Pearce wrote in March that the goalkeeper had been told “not to expect a bid” due to Roma’s £80 million price tag.

That is when Ward was positioned as future No. 1 – and we all know what happened next: a transformative, £65 million transfer confirmed in July 2018.

Ward was sold to Leicester days later.


Thiago – 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 20, 2020: Liverpool’s new signing Thiago Alcantara makes his debut as a substitute during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

Finally, Liverpool’s surprise pursuit of Thiago, who was into the final year of his contract with Bayern Munich in the summer of 2020.

Reports of the club’s interest broke in Germany in June, with Spanish newspaper Sport then claiming the Reds were “very close” to a deal as Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed he would be sold.

The Liverpool Echo, however, described the rumours as “unfounded,” with Joyce writing in the Times that the Reds were “unlikely to target” the Spaniard.

Soon after, Bayern were reported to have dropped their price tag from €40 million to €30 million, with German publication BILD claiming Liverpool had offered €25 million.

The tactic seemingly paid off, with Liverpool announcing a deal for Thiago in July 2020 that saw them pay Bayern up to £25 million.