Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool would have little chance of signing Borussia Dortmund’s England international Jude Bellingham if they fail to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, according to Anfield great Steve McMahon (22 December, 2pm)
However, dismiss the Reds at your risk.
Only 18 months ago, Liverpool managed to finish third despite suffering an injury crisis that would have destroyed many a team, with Alisson Becker’s famed last-gasp header against West Brom typifying their never-say-die attitude.
The six-time European champions may have to demonstrate similar levels of determination and resilience in the New Year, with only two places and seven points separating Liverpool from Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur in the top four.
And, according to McMahon, a seat at Europe’s top table isn’t the only thing Klopp stands to lose if Liverpool finishes outside of the Champions League places.
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“That one is up in the air, isn’t it?” McMahon, a First Division winner in 1986, 1988, and 1990, said when asked about Liverpool’s interest in Bellingham.
“It probably hinges on whether Liverpool qualifies for the Champions League. He will not leave if they are not in the Champions League.”
Real Madrid are ‘increasingly optimistic’ that Bellingham will be strutting his stuff at the Santiago Bernabau in 2023, according to The Sun. Liverpool, on the other hand, are not going down without a fight; their top transfer target is an £85 million-rated midfield dynamo dubbed ‘extraordinary’ by Pep Guardiola (The Athletic).
“He looks fantastic,” McMahon says of Bellingham. “Composed. He’s mentally prepared. He appears in World Cups and England matches. He’s gifted; he’s everything you’d want in a midfielder. It’s no surprise that there are so many suitors.”
Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Paris Saint-Germain are all interested in Bellingham, who is still only 19 years old. This season, the former Birmingham City wonderkid has ten goals for Dortmund and England.
“I was impressed when he was 17. Consider what I think of him now that he’s 19!” Guardiola stated a few months back. “He matured so much” (much). On defense, he can pursue (Ilkay) Gundogan or Kevin (De Bruyne) into the pockets and win duels.
“So he’s a fantastic player. I believe everyone is aware of it. Not because Manchester City’s manager will tell you. Everyone is aware of it.”