Liverpool have entered the race for Birmingham City teenage wonder Jude Bellingham – leaving Manchester United facing more transfer misery.
News that Jurgen Klopp’s men – along with Tottenham- have joined the rest of the Premier League’s Big Six in pursuit of the England Under-17s skipper is the last thing United need.
Still reeling from being beaten to the signature of Norwegian sensation Erling Haaland by Borussia Dortmund, the Old Trafford hierarchy are desperate to avoid a humiliating repeat over Bellingham.
They tried to buy the Blues whizzkid, 16, in January but found the Championship outfit unwilling to listen to offers under £25million.
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That was enough to keep Birmingham’s youngest ever first-team debutant at St Andrews – for now.
Yet, as the interest in Bellingham, who turns 17 in June, grows by the week – Real Madrid and Barcelona recently sent scouts to watch him – he is certain to be off in the summer for £30m plus.
United appeared his most likely destination, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having first identified the midfielder’s huge potential after he scored a 35-yard rocket in an Under-16s clash against the Reds.
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But Liverpool’s sudden arrival on the scene for Bellingham, who has four goals in 32 senior appearances this term, now poses a serious threat to their bitter rivals’ ambitions.
The stability at Anfield under Klopp – allied to Liverpool’s all-conquering, record-breaking feats – could prove a major lure for one of Europe’s most-sought after teenage talents.
And that all adds up to a massive transfer war for Bellingham’s services in July and United fearing another crushing blow in the market.
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