Liverpool have been backed to win the race to sign Jude Bellingham, while the midfielder will prove Rio Ferdinand wrong in the process.
The Reds are among the clubs vying to sign Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund ahead of this summer’s transfer window.
The Bundesliga outfit are hoping that they can tempt the England international into signing a new contract, but a transfer elsewhere is likely.
Bellingham is under contract until 2025 so Dortmund are able to demand a huge fee for the teenager. A report earlier this week claimed that their asking price for the centre-midfielder will be a ‘minimum’ of £110m.
Real Madrid are also looking to sign Bellingham. The Spanish side beat Liverpool 6-2 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Speaking after this week’s second leg, Ferdinand predicted that Bellingham will opt to join Real Madrid if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League ahead of next season.
“I just think if he’s watching that tonight, he’s sitting there thinking if Real Madrid and Liverpool are in for me, there’s only one place I can go, and [Liverpool] don’t finish [in the] Champions League [places] as well maybe,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“As a player, you look at it coldly and go ‘I see more trophies here’.”
Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently sixth in the Premier League. They are six points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand.
Paul Merson disagrees with Ferdinand’s prediction about Bellingham. The Arsenal legend does not feel that playing in the Champions League will be the be-all and end-all for the 19-year-old.
‘I get where Rio Ferdinand is coming from when he says Jude Bellingham will be picking Real Madrid over Liverpool on the basis of their Champions League knockout clash,’ Merson wrote for The Daily Star.
‘But I’ve read stories about Bellingham and his family and all they were ever interested in was ensuring he plays football when they picked Borussia Dortmund over Man United.
‘One year out of the Champions League at 19 isn’t going to define his career if Liverpool miss out on fourth. He’s not an egotistical player and my feeling is he likes the challenge.
‘It’s alright playing in the Champions League but what’s the point if you don’t win it anyway? He’s an example for every kid out there, it’s not about money, it’s about performing. I still think he might swallow a year out of the Champions League if Liverpool don’t qualify. He has a very long career ahead of him.’
READ MORE: Transfer gossip… Man Utd’s ‘genuine’ hope of landing Bellingham as Liverpool eye Dortmund team-mate