Liverpool Aren’t Signing Judge Bellingham. Or Are They?

In this nightmare of a season, you’d be forgiven for thinking that an international break would be a good time to get something of a respite from Liverpool Football Club spoiling your week. The Reds can’t play so didn’t even have the chance to lose to Fulham at the weekend, meaning that I was confident that I’d be able to make it through the best part of a fortnight without being inexplicably annoyed at the club for any number of reasons. As during the World Cup, when I didn’t watch a second of football, I was looking forward to pretending that the sport didn’t exist for a while. I couldn’t be bothered with the binary moaning that follows a result, during which a Liverpool win is declared as a sign that we’re back whilst a defeat is seen as a certainty that we’re doomed to finish 12th. The first thing that annoyed me was the news that FSG had decided to put the ticket prices up. A minor increase after years of prices having been frozen, but asking the supporters to pay 2% more during a cost of living crisis just doesn’t sit right with me, personally.

When I pointed out on Twitter that it would bring in about £1.7 million, which seemed all but irrelevant compared to the goodwill lost as a result, I was informed that football is all but unaffordable now anyway and if people can afford to go then they can afford to pay an extra 2%. Even ignoring the general stupidity of such a statement, it might have some validity if it was only Liverpool tickets where people were seeing an increase in what they’re having to pay out. In reality, though, it might well be the straw that broke the camel’s back for people who have been all but priced out of the sport. Many will scrimp and save to make ends meet, but this might just be a bridge too far. That is to say nothing of how it will hurt Members the most, as with so many of the decisions made by Liverpool as a football club. Having just got over the furore that surrounded that, we then get the ‘breaking news’ from David Ornstein that the Reds no longer feel confident about signing Jude Bellingham. It is a complete and utter disaster. Or is all not as it seems?

If You’re Negotiating, Don’t Give Away The House

From the outside looking in, it looks as though the deal to take Judge Bellingham to Anfield is all but a lock. When it looked as though the Reds were unlikely to make it into the Champions League places, news emerged from Germany that actually the player wouldn’t be averse to one season out of Europe’s top competition and that he liked the idea of helping the club re-find its groove. When Liverpool beat Manchester United 7-0, Bellingham liked an Instagram post of Trent Alexander-Arnold talking about it and posted a photo of himself wearing a shirt with the number ‘7’ on it. Then Thierry Henry declared on a show with Jamie Carragher that ‘everyone knows’ that Bellingham wants to play for the Reds. In terms of negotiations, Borussia Dortmund have effectively got Liverpool over a barrel. They know that we need to completely revamp our midfield and that we desperately want Bellingham to be the lynchpin of that revamp. They seemingly know that the player wants to come to Liverpool. Will we pay anything to get him?

From the point of view of the club, they need to ensure that they’re not giving away the house. I am quite sure that everyone concerned with Liverpool knows how important signing Bellingham would be. It would give us our main midfielder for the next ten years or so, to say nothing of the fact that it will strengthen a rival whilst weakening us were it to happen. Just because that is the case, however, doesn’t mean that we should just pay any figure that Dortmund come up in order to secure his signature. The bad news is that everyone knows what we need and that we want him, so the club has to find other ways of tempering the expectation of the German club in terms of what they’re going to get when it comes to a fee. Would we be willing to pay £100 million? I believe so. I also think we’d pay a bit more than that. Would we pay £200 million? No, nor should we. By releasing the story to Ormstein that we actually don’t think we’re going to get him, we’re letting Dortmund know that they don’t have us over a barrel and can’t just demand any old fee.

The Player Himself Will Decided

If Jude Bellingham wants to play for Liverpool then the likelihood is that he’s going to end up doing so. That doesn’t mean that the Reds will be able to get him on the cheap, but it also means that what Real Madrid or Manchester City are willing to pay Dortmund for his signature is quietly irrelevant. There have been noises out of the Westfalenstadion that Bellingham would be happy to wait another year if needs be. Should he do so, the fee that the German club can command for his signature will drop. Even if City offer £300 million, if Bellingham doesn’t want to go there then it doesn’t matter. It would make more sense to sell him to us for, say, £120 million, than wait a year and see him come to us anyway for £70 million in a year’s time. The lad himself seems to have a sensible head on his shoulder. His entire career, he and his advisers have made the right decisions for his career. Given the fact that Aurélien Tchouaméni chosen Real over Liverpool and then missed out on playing in the Champions League match against us, is that something Bellingham will think about?

Then there’s everything going on at 115 Charges FC. Would a player who has made sensible decision after sensible decision suddenly change that and go to a club that might find all of its achievements in the Premier League all but dismissed in a year or two’s time? That isn’t something that makes a lot of sense to me. None of which is to say that I think he’s definitely signing for the Reds in the summer. There are countless things that might end up changing the player’s mind between now and signing on the dotted line. Yet I do think that his history suggests that he’s more likely to make a decision for a footballing reason than a financial one. He’s going to get weighed in anyway and he and his family will be financially secure for the rest of their lives, so I would be surprised if he didn’t make the choice that he thinks is best for both his future and his long-term legacy as a footballer. With the words that have been leaked to Ornstein, Liverpool have positioned themselves to get the player that they want without paying the fee that Dortmund want.

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