Liverpool have pulled out of the race to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund this summer after concluding the deal would not make sense for them any more – and potentially opening the way for Real Madrid or Manchester City to seal a record deal for the midfielder.
Jurgen Klopp has been a high-profile admirer of the England international for some time and the 19-year-old was expected to top Liverpool’s list of targets after they opted not to sign a midfielder last summer.
Bellingham is expected to command a record price for an English player, topping the £100m City paid for Jack Grealish, but Liverpool’s budget may be reduced as they are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League and they are likely to need to divide it several ways with at least two midfielders needed. James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who are all out of contract in the summer, could leave, along with on-loan Arthur Melo.
Liverpool are also wary of getting into a bidding war and ending up wasting time and missing out on other targets while chasing Bellingham. They were conscious there was no guarantee he would choose to come to Anfield, but their decision leaves Real the favourites to buy Bellingham.
However, there is a growing possibility the former Birmingham player, who is under contract until 2025, will stay in Germany for one more year.
Liverpool have also considered a host of other midfielders, including the Chelsea pair of Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher, the Brighton duo of Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister and Wolves’ Matheus Nunes.