Liverpool’s need for a midfield revamp remains a priority, yet their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, a player they have held in high regard for nearly three years, appears to have come to an end. With Dortmund’s valuation of Bellingham still unchanged, many are questioning why the Premier League club has decided to step back from their efforts to sign the 19-year-old prodigy.
The Anfield management cites a practical approach as the reason for their decision. With a large-scale rebuild in the works, spending more than £100 million on a single player may not be a wise financial move for a club that operates within its means. However, Liverpool’s history of delaying midfield reinforcement in favor of “the right player” has led to missed opportunities and a weakened negotiating position. Bellingham’s astronomical price tag should have been anticipated, yet the Merseysiders took far too long to come to this realization.
Since 2018, Thiago Alcantara has been the only permanent senior addition to Liverpool’s midfield, highlighting the need for rejuvenation, especially considering the existing players’ fatigue and injury issues. It’s possible that Jurgen Klopp’s determination to sign Bellingham contributed to the club’s current predicament, as securing Champions League football and the associated financial benefits now seems increasingly out of reach.
Liverpool’s fixation on Bellingham may have blinded them to warning signs and led them to neglect the gradual buildup of their next formidable team. Back in 2021, some members of the club’s recruitment team expressed concerns about the squad’s aging core and the impact of numerous seasons of demanding football on the players’ physical and mental states. Yet, the club continued to offer new contract extensions rather than addressing their most pressing needs.
When Aurelien Tchouameni opted for Real Madrid and Ryan Gravenberch was signed by Bayern Munich, Liverpool failed to pivot and pursue alternative options. Instead, they made a last-minute loan move for the injury-prone Arthur Melo, which barely addressed their midfield issues.
The task of rebuilding a team that has reached its peak and set new standards is challenging, but Liverpool’s delayed action has made it even more difficult. They have spent £180 million on their attack in the past year, yet now face a complete overhaul of their midfield and the need for at least one top defensive signing. With several players’ contracts expiring and others experiencing performance decline or injury problems, Liverpool’s midfield woes are far from over.
Some believe that Liverpool’s withdrawal from the Bellingham race could be a strategic move to lower the asking price, but this overlooks the fact that Dortmund has no pressing need to sell. With Real Madrid and Manchester City also showing interest in Bellingham and Manchester United exploring the possibility, Liverpool’s negotiating power is limited.
Liverpool’s current situation suggests that they may have clung to the idea of signing Bellingham for too long, even when it became apparent that it was an unrealistic goal. While they have finally realized that a single, expensive signing cannot solve all of their problems, this conclusion has come at the expense of more proactive action in previous transfer windows.
As the club looks to rebuild its midfield, it’s difficult to see how they can do so without significant financial investment. With Mason Mount valued at £70 million by Chelsea, and Brighton expecting more for Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister after their impressive seasons, Liverpool will likely have to dig deep into their pockets. Additionally, Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella is rumored to be available for around £50 million.
Liverpool may consider revisiting Gravenberch, who is unhappy with his limited playing time at Bayern, and they have been evaluating Salzburg’s Luka Sucic and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners as potential options. Meanwhile, Bellingham has the choice to stay with Dortmund for another season to further his development or select between Real Madrid or Manchester City.
Manchester United’s main priority is to sign a top forward, but if Bellingham expresses interest, they wouldn’t hesitate to pursue him. Real Madrid is pitching the opportunity for Bellingham to win the Ballon d’Or and become European royalty at the Bernabeu, but they see Manchester City, led by Pep Guardiola, as their main competition for the young talent.
Ultimately, Bellingham has a variety of options at his disposal, while Liverpool must scramble to find a mix of players to rebuild their struggling midfield.