If it’s Manchester City v Liverpool for Jude Bellingham then ‘dispassionate’ follows Haaland

Sarah Winterburn
Liverpool target Bellingham

Jude Bellingham is calm, mature, intelligent and entirely focused. He is also logical, which would rule out Liverpool.

The use of the word ‘dispassionately’ is what could scupper any Liverpool move for Jude Bellingham. ‘Dispassionate’ does not choose a Liverpool side that has struggled in two of the last three seasons. ‘Dispassionate’ does not choose history, an old stadium and famous European nights. ‘Dispassionate’ does not choose a sabbatical from the Champions League. ‘Dispassionate’ chooses Manchester City.

If this is a classic head v heart debate for Jude Bellingham, history suggests the head will rule. He loved Birmingham but when Borussia Dortmund gave him an opportunity, he admitted it wasn’t even a hard decision. Every interview with Bellingham confirms what his football suggests: He is calm, mature, intelligent and entirely focused. Does somebody of that description choose this Liverpool project?

Liverpool’s great hope is that Bellingham is enticed by the possibility of being at the heart of a new Liverpool team, of being exactly like his hero Steven Gerrard, and the reverence in which he holds the former Reds captain was heart-warmingly clear this week when the two talked on television.

But the truth is that Bellingham does not want to be exactly like his hero Steven Gerrard because Bellingham wants to win league titles. And ‘dispassionately’ speaking, that is less likely to happen at Liverpool than Manchester City or Real Madrid. Even in this golden Jurgen Klopp era, Liverpool have won just one Premier League title and look roughly a million miles away from claiming another.

There was much made during the World Cup of Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold being in the ear of Bellingham about the wonders of Liverpool, but it was almost forgotten that Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Kalvin Phillips were in Qatar too. All but one were reigning Premier League champions (the other might have been understandably reticent to persuade Bellingham to join Manchester City) and that makes a quite compelling case.

Also in his circle is Erling Haaland, former Borussia Dortmund teammate and pretty much the epitome of clear-headed decision-making on and off the pitch. We can almost hear him laughing at the notion that Bellingham would choose Liverpool because of emotion and the opportunity to be an inspirational captain like Gerrard, to be at the heart of a Jurgen Klopp rebuild.

Remember Papa Haaland and his list: “On our list, I think City is the best team. Munich is number two. We have Real Madrid as number three, Paris Saint-Germain as number four. We also have some English teams other than City who are quite good…Liverpool and Chelsea. Also, there is Barcelona. They are sort of in the same row.”

That list already looks a little outdated, with no mention of Arsenal or Manchester United, while Liverpool and Chelsea have since lost status. You can imagine Bellingham compiling a similar list in 2023 and no application of logic would see Liverpool figure anywhere close to Manchester City or Real Madrid. And with the latter likely to miss out for financial reasons, that leaves City as the obvious, logical choice.

So Liverpool are left hoping that logic plays absolutely no part in the thinking of Bellingham. That he turns down a likely more lucrative move (for both himself and Dortmund) for the lure of three things: Jurgen Klopp, the magic/history of the club and the opportunity to be at the centre of a resurgence.

And if you want Bellingham to leave logic at the door then you are losing the very essence of the player Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid so rightfully covet. Dispassionately, he chooses the club already most likely to win the Premier League next season. And definitely one certain to be in the Champions League.