Liverpool private theory about Jude Bellingham may be correct after £95m response - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool private theory about Jude Bellingham may be correct after £95m response – Liverpool Echo

The decision to move away from a pursuit of Jude Bellingham could eventually come to be known as the sliding doors moment for the final years of Jürgen Klopp’s reign at Liverpool.

It was a decision that became increasingly easy for the club as the season progressed. Ahead of the World Cup, Liverpool believed a deal needed to be struck with Borussia Dortmund for around £80m before the England international’s valuation skyrocketed thanks to his performances for the Three Lions at Qatar’s flagship club in November and December.

As the new year progressed it became clearer that Liverpool’s drop in form was due to more than just the efforts of the previous season and the idea that Bellingham would become the silver bullet to cure the ailments became harder to justify.

After a particularly difficult six weeks at the start of 2023 in which the Reds were comfortably beaten by the likes of Brentford, Brighton and Wolves, the thinking process began to gradually change at the AXA Training Centre.

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And with no real indication from Bellingham’s camp that he would choose Liverpool after all, the decision was made around March to abandon the hunt for the most in-demand player in European football.

The news was initially met with widespread frustration, given both the club’s longstanding interest and admiration for the recently 20-year-old and the fact that other transfer targets had previously been shunned in favor of a grand charm offensive to get him in.

Having fluttered their eyelashes in the midfielder’s direction for the better part of two years, the call to walk out just months before the summer transfer window opened after accepting he was beyond their means was initially regarded by some as seen further evidence. of an empire in decline under Klopp, at least from the outside.

However, it was decided inwardly that the summer rebuild would be about more than one player and the wisdom of allocating what would have been the lion’s share of the budget to a single arrival was ultimately folly, no matter how talented Bellingham is. .

Those on the inside at the time compared the situation to the club’s decision to bring in Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz in 1999 for a combined fee of around £6 million rather than spend a club record sum on Rio Ferdinand, then at West Ham United. .

In an attempt to tighten up a porous defence, Gerard Houllier opted for Willem II’s little-known Hyypia for £2.6m, along with Swiss international Henchoz from Blackburn Rovers for £3.5m. Just over a year later, Ferdinand moved to Leeds United for a world record fee for a center back of £18 million.

Hyypia and Henchoz formed the basis of Liverpool’s defense for years to come and played an important part in the 2000/2001 season as the Reds won a treble of the UEFA Cup, League Cup and FA Cup, while also winning their first place in the Champions League. been a while since it was renamed in the early 1990s. The former played over 450 games for the Reds and is a club legend.

Heading into the summer, some used this as an example of what the Reds needed to repeat if they wanted to come out of the Bellingham saga stronger and with less than a week to go until Klopp welcomes his players back to the AXA Center of the Premier League before the start pre-season schedule, it’s fair to say the mood is upbeat given what’s happened since then.

While Bellingham joined Real Madrid for a fee that would rise to £115 million – making him the most expensive Englishman of all time – Liverpool have opted to shell out £95 million on Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai to date. It’s an exciting double flight that promises a lot for a new midfield for the next term.

Both players had release clauses in their contracts, helping Klopp and his recruiting team avoid the sort of protracted story that Manchester United have experienced with their move to £60million Mason Mount at Chelsea. It’s also something they might have been exposed to had they tried to stay the course in the battle for Bellingham.

Without the bounty of Champions League earnings in the same summer that required a major rebuild within the side, the idea of ​​a blockbuster, club-record package for a player also coveted by the 14-time champions of Europe at Real Madrid, in hindsight a difficult strategy to execute well.

Instead, Liverpool have kicked off by making their biggest outlay since 2018 with the transfer window only weeks away. In retrospect, it will ultimately be determined whether it was the right decision, but the mood has changed and few are now objecting to it.

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