Jude Bellingham might not make a summer transfer to Liverpool this summer but FSG has a list of candidates they could sign to make three for the price of just one player.
Liverpool’s pursuit of Jude Bellingham seems to have concluded. And while it’s not the conclusion Liverpool fans had expected, it seems appropriate given the current context of the squad and the state of the upcoming transfer market.
As per The Times Liverpool has ‘cooled’ its interest in Bellingham because the club cannot justify the excessive figure Borussia Dortmund will demand the England from international — something in the region of $160m (£130m/€145m).
At that price range, given the amount of investment Liverpool need in midfield, let alone the squad, Bellingham simply cannot be considered a viable option this summer — even if the squad situation is of the Reds’ own doing.
But that does not mean it’s all doom and gloom for Liverpool. If history has taught us anything, it’s normally the club’s alternative or ‘second choice’ options that turn out to be masterstrokes.
Mohamed Salah or Diogo Jota will come to mind, with Liverpool initially pursuing deals for Julian Brandt and Timo Werner respectively before eventually ‘settling’ for the aforementioned duo instead.
Not signing for Bellingham for his reported fee could allow Liverpool to invest in the midfield by bringing into perhaps two, even three, midfielders for the club at around the same price.
Jürgen Klopp needs at least two midfield options.
If not Bellingham, then who?
The priority is of course finding a player of Bellingham’s ilk who can play in the box-to-box role either on the right side or the left side of the midfield three.
When it comes to potential alternative targets, Liverpool’s priority will likely be Mason Mount. The Guardian has previously reported Liverpool is interested in the 24-year-old Chelsea midfielder and with Mount yet to sign a contract extension, the club would be well-positioned to make a move for his services.
With Chelsea desperately needing to sell players this summer given European football is unlikely at Stamford Bridge next season and the Blues’ already possessing an inflated squad, Liverpool will hold an advantage in any negotiations for Mount.
With one year left on his current deal, a price of $49m (£40m/€45m) might be reason enough to bring him to Anfield. And for that price, a player of Mount’s quality is an absolute bargain considering he offers an offensive threat — something Liverpool hasn’t really had from midfield for years — and is also underrated in his defensive side of the game, with Mount suited to the gegenpressing style of Klopp.
Other potential alternatives include Alexis Mac Allister of Brighton. The World Cup-winning midfielder is is another who is of the same mold as Bellingham in terms of his box-to-box and creative assets.
According to Fichajes, he is valued at $87m (£71m/€80m), which is more expensive than Mount, but still around half of what Bellingham would cost, and considering recently Mac Allister was pulling the string for Argentina in the World Cup final, it’s not an extortionate price.
It probably also helps that Szoboszlai plays in a club in RB Leipzig that Liverpool tends to conduct business with, and is always open to selling even their star players.
The holding midfield question
But it’s not just a box-to-box midfielder Liverpool is crying out for this summer. Fabinho’s form has dipped this season, and with the Brazilian entering his twilight years, it’s clear Liverpool needs to sure up in the defensive midfield department.
Signing Bellingham would have likely made Liverpool’s ability to also add a holding midfielder very difficult, but with Bellingham’s transfer price spread out between two players, the club can now afford to sign a reliable and strong ball-winning holding midfielder.
Khéphren Thuram has been a midfielder who has been linked with a move to Liverpool as per RMC. Having recently made his debut for the French national team and continuing to impress at Nice, his value of $37m (£30m/€34m) makes him an intriguing prospect.
However, he doesn’t necessarily excel in his ball-winning capabilities. Instead, he is more of a ball progressor from deep, with his main strengths being in possession rather than out of it.
Nonetheless, for the kind of price he is being touted around, Thuram could certainly be a smart signing.
Sofyan Amrabat is another on Liverpool’s radar as per Footmercato. At $27m (£22m/€25m), the Moroccan international could be a bargain. He covers a lot of ground, showed his defensive side of the game at the World Cup with outstanding displays, and is also excellent on the ball. Press resistant and astute at progressing the ball as well with smart passes, Amrabat ticks a lot of boxes for Liverpool. At 26 years old, he is still relatively young as well and is someone to keep an eye on.
The last player worth mentioning in the holding midfield position for Liverpool is Manuel Ugarte. An outstanding ball winner, this season has been his breakthrough campaign at Sporting CP and he has excelled both for club and country, having also established himself as a key member of the Uruguayan national team.
Only very recently having turned 22 years old, his reading of the game and control is something that would appeal to Liverpool. He would likely be the most expensive option among the two other holding midfielders mentioned, but perhaps he could be the best suited to what Liverpool needs.
If Liverpool has some money to spare from the Bellingham pot, it’s possible the club could also sign a more under-the-radar squad option to bolster Klopp’s options depending on who departs the midfield this summer.
These could include, Alex Scott who has recently been watched by Liverpool scouts as per the Daily Mail. But 21-year-old Boca Juniors midfielder, Alan Varela is also reportedly on Liverpool’s radar as per Football Insider.
And another under-the-radar option could be Fabian Rieder. A 21-year-old Swiss international midfielder for BSC Young Boys, Rieder has the versatility and the defensive work-rate Klopp looks for in his players and he is also capable of making contributions in the final third.
All of these players would likely cost under $31m (£25m/€28m) and could prove to be smart investments.
Building a squad
Bellingham would have been an unbelievable signing for Liverpool. But in many ways, it could have ended up as a reckless one for the current price being touted around.
With what Borussia Dortmund is asking for the England international at this stage, Liverpool is better off investing that kind of money into two or three players instead to build the kind of squad Klopp can use to challenge for the Premier League title again.
Right now, more than anything, Liverpool’s midfield needs balance and it is unknown whether or not Bellingham alone could have given the Reds everything the club needs at the moment.
Not signing him may also allow Klopp to also invest in another center-back and perhaps even a squad option in the attack to replace the departing Roberto Firmino. So while this summer may not bring about the transfer everyone wanted, it still promises to be an exciting transfer window ahead with Liverpool making plenty of moves.