Bellingham signing key as Real Madrid also eye Benzema back-up
Real Madrid are eager to add Jude Bellingham to their midfield options this summer - but so are Liverpool. An understudy at centre-forward is also needed.
Must sign Jude Bellingham: that’s the mantra at Real Madrid. With Luka Modric and Toni Kroos both showing their age this season, Madrid chiefs are keenly aware of the need to add fresh blood to the team’s midfield options - and the Borussia Dortmund and England star is central to that drive.
Club sources have acknowledged to this newspaper that a top-quality addition is needed in the Madrid engine room, and the Spanish and European champions are preparing for a summer transfer window in which Liverpool are shaping up as their chief competitors for Bellingham’s signature. Madrid are unwilling to be drawn into a bidding war with the Premier League club - but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to dig very deep for the 19-year-old.
Real Madrid ready to spend €150m on Bellingham
Dortmund are expected to seek around €100m for Bellingham, plus a series of add-ons that could take his price to €150m. Madrid have budgeted for such an outlay - but are reluctant to go higher. Liverpool, on the other hand, appear willing to push the boat out further, with head coach Jürgen Klopp said to be “obsessed” with the idea of working with Bellingham. Klopp has told Liverpool he’s eager to add the teenager to his squad next season, and the club are talking to the player’s camp in a bid to persuade them that Anfield is the destination for him.
Given that Liverpool look to hold the financial upper hand in the race for Bellingham, the player’s desire to join Madrid will be key to making a Bernabéu switch happen. As things stand, the midfielder favours a move to the Spanish capital over a return to England: in 2020, he left Birmingham City for Germany to further his career abroad - and he still believes the best thing for his development is to play on the continent.
Could Bellingham stay at Dortmund?
Right now, there’s only a remote possibility that Bellingham could end up remaining at Dortmund. Indeed, AS understands that the eight-time German champions have privately accepted that he will not be at the club next term.
However, Dortmund are going to try to convince Bellingham to stay nonetheless. According to Sky Sport Deutschland, they’re preparing to offer him a three-and-a-half-year contract worth €15m a season - a bumper deal that would make him the highest-paid player in the club’s history. To put it into context, that’s almost as much as Modric and Thibaut Courtois earn at Madrid.
Real Madrid keen to sign striker ahead of 2024 Haaland bid
Meanwhile, Madrid are also looking at bringing in a back-up to Karim Benzema in the summer. Although he’d like to renew, Mariano Díaz is not in the club’s plans and is certain to leave at the end of the season, so a new centre-forward will be needed. Madrid are out to pull off a transfer coup by landing Manchester City star Erling Haaland, but not until summer 2024; signing the Norwegian before then looks to be impossible.
Los Merengues will therefore need to find a stop-gap solution reminiscent of the signings of Emmanuel Adebayor in 2011, and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández in 2014. Madrid have set about combing the market, but haven’t found a clear candidate… yet.
AS USA stories: Real need Bellingham
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