Rio Ferdinand has questioned if Liverpool can realistically lure England midfielder Jude Bellingham to Anfield this summer given the club’s stuttering season.
Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment after his impressive performances in the Bundesliga and at the Qatar World Cup with England.
As a result, the 19-year-old has been strongly linked with a move away from Germany, with Real Madrid and Liverpool the destinations thought most likely.
However, with the Reds struggling to reach the heights of last season – when they challenged for an unprecedented quadruple until the final knockings of the season – BT Sport expert Rio Ferdinand wonders if Bellingham would now see Anfield as the next step in his fledgling career.
“I just think, if he watches that tonight, he’s sitting there thinking: ‘If Real Madrid are in for me and Liverpool, there’s only one place I can go’ – and they [Liverpool] don’t finish in the Champions League as well maybe,” former Manchester United defender Ferdinand said.
“As a player – nothing to do with my allegiances to United or Liverpool – you look at it cold and you go: ‘I see more trophies here [at Madrid]’.”
Ex Liverpool striker Peter Crouch added: “I don’t disagree with it. If you’re Jude Bellingham and you’ve got a pick of a host of clubs, and Liverpool are in transition at the moment, it might not be the right answer for him.”
Michael Owen – who played for the Reds between 2000 and 2004 – stressed that a top-four finish is crucial if Liverpool are to attract the world’s best players in the transfer market.
“You’re hanging your hat on maybe one or two additions to freshen it up,” he said.
“But the worry is, if Liverpool don’t get in the Champions League, then it’s not as an exciting proposition. They probably won’t have the money to go and do it. We all know Liverpool isn’t awash with money, so I know there’s a kitty there, probably, to go for a Bellingham for £100 million, maybe a little bit more.
“But if they don’t get in the Champions League, that’s going to put a little bit more pressure on the purse strings.”
Meanwhile, Ferdinand believes that Liverpool “look like a team that has run out of steam”.
Asked to analyse where Jurgen Klopp’s side have gone wrong this season, Ferdinand said: “Physicality was one of the biggest parts of their game in their successful period, being able to outrun teams, overpower teams over the course of the whole season; they were great at that. Add to that a tactical nous on how to pressurise teams, how to put them under the cosh in forward areas.
“So you put all that together, you get results like we’ve seen this season and inconsistencies, and it’s strange to see because of how great this team has been over the last few years.”
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