Tue. May 30th, 2023

Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo are on Liverpool’s shortlist of Jude Bellingham alternatives, according to Sky Germanyas the club looks for midfield reinforcements.

Liverpool have ended their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s teenage midfielder over the German club’s £100m asking price.

Although they are long-time fans of Bellingham, Liverpool believe such a big outlay on just one player is not the right strategy to rectify the drop-off in form they’ve suffered this season.

Liverpool will be active in this summer’s window as they look to overhaul their squad and are targeting at least two new midfielders.

Sky Germany report that along with Rice and Caicedo, the Reds will be looking at Inter’s Nicolo Barella, Wolves’ Matheus Nunes and Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch.

Declan Rice's stats in the Premier League this season
Rice’s stats in the Premier League this season

Jurgen Klopp said last week that the club will improve their on-field chances with smart recruitment – but said now is not the time to focus on the title plans.

“Whatever we do next year will never be enough from people’s point of view and your [the media’s] point of view,” he said.

Moises Caicedo's stats in the Premier League this season
Caicedo’s stats in the Premier League this season

“But yes, with smart recruitment we will improve – definitely. That is the plan. We cannot make 24 changes and say, ‘here we go’ – not even 10 – but it is just that we have to make changes, smart changes, and then we go again.

“We have other moments when we think about what happens next year but this is not the moment.”

Did Liverpool hang on to the Jude Bellingham dream too long?

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Vinny O’Connor explains why the club have seemingly pulled out of the race to try to sign Jude Bellingham.

Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy questions whether Liverpool held on to the idea of ​​signing Jude Bellingham for too long with their interest appearing to be over…

The chief circumstances have not shifted: Borussia Dortmund’s valuation is unchanged, and Liverpool’s desperate need for midfield surgery as part of a wider rebuild remains.

Why then, have the Premier League club ended their pursuit of Jude Bellingham – a player they have prized above all others for the better part of three years?

The noises from Anfield suggest the decision is practical, which if viewed in isolation, is a fair stance. The scale of work needing to be done means spending in excess of £100m on one talent – regardless of how phenomenal he is – would not be wise for a business that operates within its means.

However, Liverpool have spent a succession of transfer windows ignoring the obvious need to fortify midfield due to waiting on “the right player”. That had long become code for Bellingham, who Jurgen Klopp previously admitted the club hadn’t signed solely on account of him not being available.

The big play was being saved for this summer. In the interim, other targets have been missed out on, a season has been skewered, a more severe transition awaits, and Liverpool’s negotiating position has been severely weakened by selling clubs alive to how badly they need to strengthen.

Read Melissa Reddy’s analysis of Liverpool’s Bellingham saga here.

Who is left in the running for Bellingham?

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ESPN reporter Julien Laurens believes Liverpool could have saved money on Darwin Nunez and should have use some of that to invest in a top midfielder like Jude Bellingham.

French football expert Julien Laurens to Sky Sports:

“If we’re honest there are only three clubs that can afford him. I believe he will leave Dortmund this summer to go to one of the three.

“Manchester City – he would replace Ilkay Gundogan and be reunited with his best mate Erling Haaland, work with Guardiola and this City team would be even better with him in it.

“There’s Real Madrid, we’re not sure what will happen with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos at the end of this season. They are having a younger midfield for the next 10 years with Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde. Bellingham can be another addition to that.

“The last club is PSG who believe they will have money to spend because they will be okay with Financial Fair Play – and they also need to strengthen in midfield.

“I don’t know where Bellingham would choose to go. Manchester United could be in the race but they need money for other positions, like a striker. You can’t spend £120m on Bellingham and then another £120m on a striker. You have to make choices.”

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Sky Germany reporter Jesco von Eichmann says he is shocked to see Liverpool pull out of the Jude Bellingham race this early and believes the English midfielder will be leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Sky Germany’s Jesco von Eichmann to Sky Sports:

“For every big club in Europe interested in Bellingham it’s just a matter of cost.

“If the new owners of Man Utd can afford him and want to afford him, he could be a prestigious object for them to say: ‘Hi we’re the new guys and we bought you Jude Bellingham’. Man Utd can be one of the candidates and have had an eye on him already.

“The whole package is so expensive. It’s not just the money for Dortmund which is around €150m, it’s his salary. There are just a few clubs – Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and PSG – that can afford him.”

How does Liverpool spending stack up?

Liverpool most expensive signings
Liverpool most expensive signings

By Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:

One of Liverpool’s greatest feats has been achieving recent success with a comparatively low £246m net spend on signings since the summer of 2016 – more than a third of the sums splashed by rivals Chelsea and Manchester United.

In fact, it’s less than 10 other teams. Wolves have spent more at £257m – and that figure excludes spending during two seasons in the Championship during the timeframe. Aston Villa have spent more and in merely four top-flight seasons. Newcastle have invested more and weren’t promoted until 2017.

Liverpool secured the signing Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven for £45m in January to boost Klopp’s all-star front line but the Netherlands forward remained the only recruit during the winter window. Summer signing Darwin Nunez is the club’s all-time record transfer at £85m.

Arguably, the aging side needs an injection of youthful energy in the middle of the park to maintain their high-intensity style – but the club has not spent a penny on midfielders since the turn of 2021.

Arthur Melo has clocked only 13 minutes for the Reds since signing on loan from Juventus in September last year after undergoing surgery on a thigh injury in October, while fellow midfielder Naby Keita looks set to leave the club when his contract expires this summer.

By cb2gp