A few years ago, the break-up of Liverpool’s front three was unthinkable. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino scored 338 goals between them in their five years together. They’ve led The Reds to three Champions League finals – winning one of them – as well as the club’s first Premier League title in 30 years. But with Mané departing for Bayern Munich as well as new arrival Darwin Nunez pushing Firmino further down the pecking order, that front three has now been reconstructed. Could the same thing now happen in midfield? Oddschecker, which compares odds and provides free tips on Premier League football, has made Manchester City firm favourites to retain the title they won on the final day of last season. It would be the Blues’ fifth title in six campaigns if they do retain their crown, but could the arrival of a certain English sensation help Liverpool bridge the gap?
Rumours of Jude Bellingham’s arrival at Anfield have swirled all summer. Jurgen Klopp is known to be a huge admirer of the former Birmingham City man, and the manager’s relationship with Borussia Dortmund could also help sway the club to sell their prized asset. Der BVB have long been a selling club, as seen with the recent departure of Erling Haaland to Manchester City, and the former German champions would receive another sizeable fee should their number 22 seek pastures new.
Fans have known about the central midfielder’s talent for some time now. However, what impressed them last season was his leadership and maturity despite the fact that he has just turned 19 years old. After his side’s humbling 4-2 defeat against Rangers at Singal Iduna Park, Bellingham said: “There’s not one person in that changing room that’s going to give up – and I won’t let them. We’re going to go there and give everything.”
And it is fighting talk like that which has helped endear the wonderkid to the Dortmund faithful, as well as adding 17 goal involvements to his side’s cause.
The perfect Jordan Henderson replacement?
Jordan Henderson has been a wonderful servant of Liverpool. He has bounced back from a rocky start to life in the famous red shirt, going on to rack up a mighty 449 appearances in his ten years on Merseyside. 263 of those appearances have come as captain, with Henderson doing a fine job of replacing the outgoing Steven Gerrard in 2015, doing his best to fill those massive boots. But the fact remains that the former Sunderland-man is now 32 years of age, and expecting him to make 40+ appearances throughout the next few campaigns is a big ask.
His leadership would be missed, but the skipper doesn’t necessarily have to leave the club. His demeanour could still be felt around the club and in the dressing room. But Bellingham is a vocal presence himself and he would bring in some much-needed quality to the midfield. We saw in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid that Liverpool’s midfield needs strengthening. A 36-year-old Luka Modric still managed to pull the strings that led to the Spanish club’s victory and, had the 15-time England international been involved, that may not have been the case.
The need to evolve
Change is never easy, in any walk of life. Seeing Sadio Mané depart the club was painful for all involved. But both Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita haven’t lived up to the hype that they brought to the club when arriving from the German top flight. James Milner is now 36 and at the opposite end of the spectrum; Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones – even though they are older than the Dortmund man – are still mastering their craft.
Manchester City will take some beating this term. Their strength in depth is on another level. In central midfield alone they can choose between any of Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden. Any one of them would be in Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven, hence why he needs to strike now and seal Bellingham’s signature before he heads somewhere else.