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Who will Bellingham join? Man City pushing for Real Madrid, Liverpool target

Manchester City are eyeing a summer move for England’s Jude Bellingham, who is a major target for both Real Madrid and Liverpool.

Manchester City are eyeing a summer move for England’s Jude Bellingham, who is a major target for both Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Nick Potts - PA ImagesGetty

Jude Bellingham is only 19 years old, but he’s already spent three seasons in the Borussia Dortmund midfield. Since his arrival at Signal Iduna Park at the age of 17, he’s established himself as a fixture in the Germans’ engine room, and his performances have led him to become a target for Europe’s very biggest clubs. A player with 22 international caps, Bellingham was also a central figure for England at last year’s World Cup, despite his youth.

Bought by Dortmund for €25 million in 2020, Bellingham is under contract with the Bundesliga leaders until 2025, but doesn’t have a release clause. Because of that, his price tag has - like his impact on the club’s midfield - simply increased and increased. Over the past couple of years, Liverpool have been among the teams that have shown the most interest in the Englishman - and the good relations between Dortmund and Reds boss Jürgen Klopp, who led BVB to two German titles and a Champions League final, ought to make the negotiations that bit easier.

Yet Liverpool have lost ground in the race for Bellingham’s signature. They’re a club in transition, with key figures of recent times on their way out: notably, Sadio Mané was sold to Bayern Munich last year, and Roberto Firmino is to leave at the end of this season. Given the overall investment necessary to continue their first-team overhaul this summer, Liverpool will struggle to pay the €100m-plus that Bellingham alone will cost. Particularly if Klopp’s men fail to qualify for the Champions League; that really would end their hopes of signing him. Liverpool just haven’t got going this season, and sit sixth in the Premier League, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham - albeit with two games in hand.

City emerge as competitors to Liverpool, Real Madrid

And that’s where Manchester City come in. The English champions have emerged as a major suitor for Bellingham, alongside Real Madrid, who have already taken steps to persuade the midfielder that the Bernabéu is the right destination for him. City want to bring in players in two positions this summer: at left-back, and in central midfield. Ilkay Gundögan is out of contract at the end of the current campaign, and if the German ends up leaving the Etihad Stadium, City feel Bellingham would be the ideal replacement. Bernardo Silva, who is under contract at the Citizens until 2025, continues to attract interest, and - although he’s happy in Manchester - he knows City will let him leave if they receive a tempting offer for him. Bellingham tops the Mancunians’ wish list, albeit Dortmund are hopeful of holding on to him for at least one more season.

Agents Grealish and Alexander-Arnold

At City, Jack Grealish is enjoying a much more central role in his second year at the club. He is getting much more game time, and is having a far greater impact on the team’s play. Only Kevin de Bruyne has supplied more assists than him. And in addition to his contribution on the field, Grealish also looks to be lending his club a hand in their pursuit of Bellingham. After City’s ex-Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji posted photos of himself on social media recently, Bellingham replied with a comment about Akanji’s attire - and Grealish joined in the conversation, begging his England colleague to “come to City”. Meanwhile, there are suggestions that Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has been up to similar games. The full-back was spotted having dinner with Bellingham on Sunday, before joining him at a concert by R&B singer Chris Brown in London. The images have led to all sorts of speculation, but the Reds’ form and finances do not offer their fans cause for optimism that they’ll snare their man…

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