Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has talked up Liverpool’s chances of signing Jude Bellingham this summer, even if the Reds miss out on the Champions League for next season.
The Anfield club have been strongly linked with the Borussia Dortmund sensation for quite some time (Football Insider), with Real Madrid also frequently touted as the 19-year-old’s next destination (Diario AS).
Rio Ferdinand appeared to cast doubt on the probability of Jurgen Klopp landing the England gem when speaking on BT Sport earlier this week, but another pundit is sounding a rather different note.
Merson wrote in his column for The Daily Star: “I get where Rio Ferdinand is coming from when he says Jude Bellingham will be picking Real Madrid over Liverpool on the basis of their Champions League knockout clash.
“But I’ve read stories about Bellingham and his family and all they were ever interested in was ensuring he plays football when they picked Borussia Dortmund over Man United.
“One year out of the Champions League at 19 isn’t going to define his career if Liverpool miss out on fourth. He’s not an egotistical player and my feeling is he likes the challenge.
“It’s alright playing in the Champions League but what’s the point if you don’t win it anyway? He’s an example for every kid out there, it’s not about money, it’s about performing. I still think he might swallow a year out of the Champions League if Liverpool don’t qualify. He has a very long career ahead of him.”
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In stark contrast to Ferdinand’s ominous utterances earlier in the week, Merson’s verdict will be music to the ears of Liverpool fans everywhere.
Missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League, and duly a place in the Champions League, would theoretically make it harder for the Reds to get their man, especially when Dortmund look well set to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition again for 2023/24.
However, hopefully Bellingham will see the work that Klopp’s done and the trophies he’s won throughout his time at Anfield and view the Merseysiders as a step up from his current employers.
If he were to join Liverpool, it’s very likely that the midfield would be built around him, with the 19-year-old given star billing and starting every week – a status he might not enjoy in the incredibly pressurised goldfish bowl that is the Bernabeu.
Nonetheless, between now and the summer, let’s hope the Reds can still find a way into next season’s Champions League, which should give us a stronger footing when it comes to trying to lure the England star back to his homeland rather than going to Spain.
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