Fenway Sports Group came in for criticism after stories of Liverpool’s U-turn on Jude Bellingham, but other fans had theories on the timing.
Late on Tuesday night, journalists across Merseyside brought the news that Liverpool would no longer be pursuing Bellingham as he had been deemed too expensive.
A potential deal with Dortmund is set to exceed the £100 million mark, and with the likes of Man City, Man United and Real Madrid all in the hunt, the Reds are said to have pulled out.
That has left many supporters furious with the club’s owners, FSG, after what has been depicted as a long wait without midfield signings on the proviso that Bellingham was the No. 1 target.
But as others took to Twitter, Facebook and the This Is Anfield comments section, an interesting theory arose.
Many fans were furious at the initial story…
Really glad Liverpool threw an entire season down the drain waiting for a specific midfield target, refusing to compromise on alternatives, only to decide they can’t afford him anyway, when everyone knew he’d cost a huge amount of money all along. Superb.
— Joel Rabinowitz (@joel_archie) April 11, 2023
In isolation, Liverpool calling off their pursuit of Jude Bellingham makes sense given the scale of the rebuild they face this summer. In reality, though, it throws up major questions regarding football strategy and the club’s owners FSG.
— David Lynch (@dmlynch) April 11, 2023
Whether a failure of football strategy in the first post-Michael Edwards window or FSG parsimony is to blame, fans have every right to be frustrated by the consequences: this woeful season and no Bellingham. LFC are now under huge pressure to correct their mistakes this summer.
— David Lynch (@dmlynch) April 11, 2023
Pinned everything on Tchouameni and Bellingham and got neither, leaving the midfield to rot. That's piss poor. Wasted peak seasons of our best players. We've left silverware behind us because of those decisions. Especially last season.
— Taffin (@CalvLyfeson) April 11, 2023
“We had money kept for Tchouameni (around 60m if I’m not wrong). We earned 100m+ from last season’s UCL run alone. We earned from winning domestic cups and coming second in the PL. That’s almost 60m. We will earn at least 45m from this season UCL run. Not to mention TV rights, Merchandise, sponsors etc. Do they seriously want us to believe they don’t have money to go for Bellingham and if they do, the rebuild will be in jeopardy?”
– skint_git22 in the comments.
It’s not just Bellingham the club have missed out on neglecting the market to wait for, it’s Tchouaméni. To miss out on your top two targets penny pinching and with no disrespect – wasting thousands and millions of pound on Arthur, missing out on CL football is unforgivable.
— Lewis Bower (@LewisBower2021) April 11, 2023
Liverpool knew in June that Tchouameni was Madrid bound, did nothing claiming to wait for the right player, and threw away the season keeping cash for Jude. Now shock horror there's no money for Jude, and this time no Top 4 will be used as a bullshit excuse. Club is a joke #LFC
— Ty Kropp (@tizlad) April 12, 2023
“And we wasted a whole season just for this? It was so obvious we needed midfield reinforcements last summer but still chose to wait for Jude knowing very well that he is out of our price range.
“What at all are they smoking in Boston and in L4?”
– Onera (Ghana) in the comments.
The thing is that FSG knew that Jude Bellingham was quoted £108m last summer, so what were they thinking knowing that his stock was always going to be increased and gambling a whole season, just to pull out.
Unforgivable. They deserve all the backlash from this embarrassment.
— Samuel (@SamueILFC) April 12, 2023
The Joyce piece says that the cost of Bellingham is too much for a club ‘that is no longer building from a position of strength.’
That’s on FSG. They’ve low balled for too long and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
— Danny (@dlmjnk) April 11, 2023
We went from Bellingham to Gravenberch and Koopmeiners in the same night Manchester City obliterated Bayern Munich 3-0, well on their way to a UCL semi-final.
I hate FSG. Klopp’s also to blame for being fine with it.
— ?????? (@WilcoFtbl) April 12, 2023
So Liverpool put transfer plans on hold for 2 years & jeopardise seasons, to get Bellingham…
To now say he costs too much and that we need to buy more players to rebuild (because we didn’t invest enough in order to to get Bellingham?)
Someone has to be on the wind up ?
— Jamie Holme (@JamieHolme) April 12, 2023
But others have theories about the timing…
If this Bellingham thing isn’t a negotiating tactic, you’ve got to wonder why they felt the need to say anything at all? #LFC
— Sam Drury (@SamDrury11) April 11, 2023
What do Liverpool stand to gain by briefing that Bellingham is too expensive and why would they do it now?
— Craig Hannan (@C_Hannan7) April 11, 2023
It’s one of 2 things. 1. Bellingham has chosen another club and it’s done. Be announced imminently. So it’s narrative control. 2. Bellingham wants #LFC but we’ve walked from negotiations and using media as a tactic. Absolutely zero need to leak anything now – today – otherwise.
— Si Steers (@sisteers) April 11, 2023
Maybe this is tactical, maybe Bellingham goes to Madrid, maybe he stays at Dortmund this summer. Dunno. We’ll have to see. But the timing around all of this is very strange. Why announce that you’re backing out at all if it isn’t a negotiation tactic? Why not just let it happen?
— Joel Dunn-Wilson (@JDunnWilson) April 12, 2023
“Makes me even more convinced we’re signing him! Happens with almost every big name we’ve ever gone for!”
– Ben Roberts on Facebook.
If I had to guess, we’ve made a bid, Dortmund have rejected it & said it needs to be well higher, so we’ve said we’re cooling interest. It’s called negotiating. Maybe we sign him, maybe we don’t, but there’ll be loads of back & forth like this before any deal is done.
— And Could He Play (@andcouldheplay7) April 11, 2023
Every single thing we hear about transfers is a game, a play, a strategic manoeuvre.
So many times. We won’t sign this or that player and they end up at Liverpool anyway.
We’ve also signed others instead of main targets who have flourished. Salah and Mane for example. https://t.co/y0gb8i8773
— Robbie Fowler (@StaffordScouse) April 11, 2023
Maybe others aren’t in or won’t pay.
This is a deliberate step, for a reason they only know yet
— Jay McKenna (@JayMcKenna87) April 11, 2023
— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) April 11, 2023
“I’m sure we were ‘priced out of’ VVD too. Relax everyone. The ITKs… know nothing these days”
– RF9 in the comments.
Icl Liverpool like to keep things quiet. Things were heating up about Bellingham recently, and all English journos got briefed the same thing in the last hour. Negotiation tactic imo.
— Jay (@__JS98) April 11, 2023
Sometimes it’s a tactic. ?? pic.twitter.com/xRNkBeCfAF
— Mick Moran (@Mick_Moran_) April 11, 2023
It remains to be seen how the situation will play out, but the optics of Tuesday night’s leak are not positive in the context of a campaign essentially wasted.
There is every chance, given the club’s history, that Bellingham could still walk through the doors of the AXA Training Centre this summer – but also every chance he does not.
If the story is as reported, though, it would be a damning indictment of Liverpool’s strategy under FSG.