Liverpool and Jude Bellingham?
Reports covering the two should come complete with an addendum consisting of an array of exclamation and question marks in the headline and footage attached of the writer repeatedly smacking their head against the desk.
Exciting as the prospect of the highly-talented midfielder wearing the famous red shirt is, it’s frustrating having to write about a topic so many have already pitched in on with roughly the same information each time.
How to construct a Jude Bellingham to Liverpool transfer story has become such a clearly defined process it hardly requires any journalistic skill:
- Jurgen Klopp loves the player? Check!
- Liverpool have been tracking the player for ages? Check!
- Liverpool don’t have as much money as Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, et al.? Check!
- The player hasn’t made his mind up on his next move? Check!
- The player values his personal development over financial gain? Check!
- A host of clubs have held meetings with his family? Check!
Perhaps no other article epitomises this reality more than The Athletic’s update this morning, with the ever-reliable David Ornstein claiming that the Reds are ‘increasingly unlikely’ to sign the England international.
Based on what evidence, we hear you ask? Maybe Liverpool’s recruitment team has decided the money (in the region of £130m, according to a variety of reports) would be better spent elsewhere? Perhaps the player and his family reckon he’s more likely to realise his vast potential at another outfit?
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Sadly, it seems there’s a lack of clarification on either front.
According to The Athletic, we’re less likely to complete a deal due to the high asking price Borussia Dortmund will rightly set this summer, our alleged unwillingness to enter a bidding war and the comparative financial might of our rivals.
“As there isn’t a release clause in Bellingham’s deal, his employers have no obligation to sell, and that is among the reasons why it is anticipated it will take a very high price to alter their stance,” Ornstein wrote for the publication.
“That makes a deal challenging for every interested party and therefore — as things stand — it is regarded as increasingly unlikely that Liverpool will sign Bellingham in this summer’s transfer window.
“The 19-time English champions have probably been more heavily linked than anyone else and manager Jurgen Klopp is a huge admirer. But the anticipated fee, the financial power of rival suitors and their reticence about entering a bidding war at the level expected has cast significant doubt on Liverpool’s chances.
“It does not mean their pursuit is off and no firm decisions have been made, although sources with knowledge of the matter think City and Real Madrid are in stronger positions at the moment.”
How, pray tell, does this qualify as a genuine update to such an extent that it has decreased our chances?
That’s not to discredit the journalist in question, who is undoubtedly subject to the demands and realities of the industry, and remains, without question, a phenomenally hard-working and reliable source of news.
The claims made no doubt bear more than a smidge of truth – Manchester City and the like are obviously wealthier, but to say Liverpool are suddenly less likely to complete a transfer on the basis of information that has been widely known since the prior summer window seems ludicrous.
If the conditions in question fundamentally haven’t changed, the club shouldn’t be “less likely” to sign Bellingham – their chances are exactly the same.
It’s a fair point, of course, to note that a lack of Champions League football COULD have a sizeable impact on our manoeuvrability in the market but no one’s breaking any new ground by suggesting as much.
One important consideration for FSG this summer
We suspect a number of fans will be feeling similarly unsurprised/outraged as Jose Enrique following the update in question.
Though we’d like to emphasise that the surrounding conditions haven’t changed significantly, it’s worth also underlining the unique position the club has put itself in by taking the apparent approach of ‘Bellingham or nothing’.
Our ability to compete for the 19-year-old may very well be challenged by a failure to secure top four football, though the extent of the rebuild required – and the potential long-term damage likely to be caused by a failure to invest – means that we simply can’t afford not to throw our weight about in the market.
Even if it only means that we bring in Bellingham and one other option to bolster the midfield, Liverpool have backed themselves into a corner.
With FSG now committing to the club too by pivoting away from a full sale, the potential collapse in value of one of the items in their portfolio is now firmly their problem.
Being out of top European football for a year would be a big blow, though it’s a hit we can technically afford to take provided that it doesn’t extend beyond the next campaign.
This is all speculation, of course, and we’re by no means suggesting John W. Henry and Co. will be prepared to give the Klopp the kind of warchest that will have recruitment teams in Manchester and Newcastle blushing.
Logic does dictate, however, that a failure to address the clear needs in the squad is equatable to self-harm.
The extent to which our owners are prepared to address that reality is admittedly debatable, though we’re struggling to envisage a summer without any level of serious investment.
As such, we’d be far from surprised to see fresh reports emerge of FSG having had a “change of heart” on the matter when push comes to shove and the summer window opens, even if the reality remains that the situation hasn’t actually changed much in actuality.
It’s not really a ‘huge transfer u-turn’ – though don’t be surprised if major outlets have you believing it. Only time will tell on that front.
Ep73 of The Empire of the Kop Podcast: Author chat with Chris Roberts on Football, Mental Health… and more!
Who knew it would come to this? Don’t worry when it eventually does come…. and it will.
Klopp will break the bad news as he always does as the FSG buffer taking the steam out of things with John Henrys metaphorical hand well and truely up his jacksy.
That’s how it’s worked before and will again. FSG are untouchable as long as Klopp defends their decisions
Klopp does manage very well he places to much attention on the old players, this is one of the main causes of Liverpools terrible performance.
The gulf between Liverpool and other clubs is about to grow even bigger this summer. Once United sells to one of their two pursuers while Liverpool will continue to stagnate financially and regress on the field under the same ‘cautious and responsible’ FSG posture there is just about guaranteed that they will return to perennial mediocre (6-7 place) status we had for 30 years prior to Klopp.
There is absolutely no chance without a massive investment THIS summer (3 top quality MFs, 1 RB as replacement/ back up to Salah, 1 additional CB and 1 top RB to replace TAA) that Liverpool can have a chance in hell to place above: City, Arsenal, United, Chelsea and Newcastle. The weakness, age , size of our squad guarantees that over 38 games we can’t compete. Simple.
There will be again nothing but excuses, justifications, reminders of Covid financial implications, lack of ChL prize funds, uncertainty, financial responsibility, etc etc, the usual bs we have heard for years now. The only major hope was a change of ownership to allow Klopp to operate in at least closer footing to others in the PL. That hope has been dashed by FSG’s u-turn and the exodus of top management from the club confirms the same direction of austerity and lack of sporting ambition. It is clear that we follow the same trajectory as FSG’s other prized asset – the Boston Red Sox. If JH treats his home town club as a pure investment what realistic hope is there to believe he will be passionate about Liverpool and make winning trophies the main objective? None. Zero. We will limp along with a great couch and a subpar squad which will sparingly get some patchwork upgrades here and there, never enough to create a truly great second Klopp team capable of dominating in PL and ChL.
fucking yeah agree you Bogdan because myself own brain head mind and heart know red sox baseball club and squad plus team fucking curse mess come next year from fsg dickhead john williams henry ok than fsg dickhead john williams henry sell and done plus finish with red sox baseball club and squad plus team now to move out of us now to samething again ok
Ur right. FSG wont stand on our fans side.