Liverpool appear all-conquering at the moment. Stacking up wins and points at an unprecedented rate in the Premier League, the reigning European champions currently have a firm grasp on the vaunted domestic trophy, to go with their European Super Cup and Club World Cup triumphs this season, while an opportunity to rectify their minor set-back in Spain is coming up next week.
In addition to — and as a consequence of — their success on the pitch, Liverpool are succeeding on other fronts as well. Finances are looking healthier than ever, with the club climbing to seventh place in Deloitte’s Football Money League this year, and looking likely to break into the top five in 2021. And, in the transfer market, the Merseysiders have arrived as one of the most attractive landing spots for the world’s top talent.
For bitter rivals Manchester United, this is an upsetting turn of events, and although the two sides have largely been shopping for different players in recent years — and displaying entirely contrasting success rates — the chase for Jude Bellingham appears as though it may be the first test of the pulling power of the clubs.
The 16-year old has been lighting up the Championship this season, appearing in 30 of Birmingham’s 34 games, and notching four goals and two assists from central midfield. A rangy six-footer, Bellingham has appeared this season as a do-it-all midfielder in the vein of the Reds’ own Jordan Henderson, uncompromising in his tackles, willing to drive into the box, but with more of a penchant for trickery with the ball at his feet.
Naturally, doing all this in the rough-and-tumble of the Championship while still in his mid-teens is exceptionally rare, and the Brummies have reportedly refused to accept a bid of £25m, holding out for a fee at least £5m higher, attempting to get as much value as possible out of their asset, while understanding that their mid-table position won’t be enough to hang onto a player whose contract runs out a little over a year from now.
Whether the Reds are willing to splash that sort of cash on a youngster remains to be seen, but there is little doubt their aging midfield is in need of turnover soon, and Bellingham ticks a lot of boxes for Jürgen Klopp, whose preference for all-action, two-way midfielders is well-established at this point.
Also, getting one over Utd would taste pretty sweet.