Jude Bellingham said it was ‘disrespectful’ to talk about Premier League links, but it’s not like he needs to with everyone else discussing the subject.
The England international and Borussia Dortmund superstar looks well set to follow a well-trodden path, leaving the Bundesliga talent pool for mega money.
Whether it’s Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho or Ousmane Dembele, financial constraints for German top flight sides make it impossible to hold onto top stars, and Bellingham will be no different.
The sale of Haaland to Manchester City this year made a move for Bellingham impossible in the same window, but sets up a mega fight next summer, with the candidates already lining up.
Among them, the most prominent and solid links seem to be to Liverpool and Real Madrid, and while that can change in an instant, Bellingham may have played his part with the former side.
The Reds are clearly in need of midfield support, having been forced to make a deadline day move for Arthur Melo with many of their options in the middle of the park either injury-prone or ageing.
And Bellingham more than fits the bill, with the 19-year-old already showing talent and leadership well beyond his years with some saying he could have the same impact on Liverpool as Haaland has on Man City.
And there’s a chance that the Reds may have an upper hand, with Bellingham regularly making minor flirtations towards Anfield, mainly in regards to his hero.
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The former Birmingham man had created rumblings on Twitter for liking some Liverpool-related content, and then went a step further in May 2021 when he posted a Steven Gerrard compilation with a pair of mind-blown emojis.
If that wasn’t enough, during England’s preparations for Euro 2020 last summer Bellingham took part in a ‘Lions’ Den’ feature and was asked if he could swap shirts with any player in football history, and didn’t hesitate.
“Stevie G, easily to be fair,” he replied.
“In fact, no it is not easy, I think him or [Wayne] Rooney are definitely close. But I think them two by quite a way.
“But I think I would go Gerrard, though just because the No.8 [shirt], similar position to me, so yeah, I would probably go with him.
“I love Stevie G to be fair.”
A similar subject was brought up months later after the tournament when Bellingham and good friend Reece James were taking part in a ‘Roomates’ quiz in which they had to guess each others’ answers to questions.
James had a multiple choice for who Bellingham would most like to swap shirts with out of Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
The Chelsea right-back unsurprisingly went for club legend Lampard, and Bellingham was delighted to inform him he got it wrong.
“Yes!” he shouted after seeing James’ answer. “Frank Lampard?! Stevie G bro!”
Luckily for the No.22, the admiration isn’t a one-way street either, with Aston Villa boss Gerrard asked earlier in 2022 about his top five midfield talents in the world.
Similarly without hesitation, Gerrard first said: “Love Jude Bellingham, absolutely loving him.”
It’s not just former Liverpool players that Bellingham rates though, it’s current ones too, as was revealed when he was designing his FIFA team of 2022.
The Dortmund star was asked the age-old question of ‘Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo’ with one spot left in his starting eleven.
Bellingham went for the Paris Saint-Germain man out of the two options, but didn’t give either his final spot, instead awarding it to Mohamed Salah.
“For this team I think it’s hard not to go with Salah,” he said.
“Messi will go into a lot of the teams because of what he’s done and obviously he was in a bit of a struggling Barca team and he was brilliant but I’ll probably have to go with Salah just because of how he’s started this season.”
Despite the sprinklings of admiration for the Merseysiders, part of what has been so impressive about Bellingham’s early career is his professionalism.
Always at ease in interviews, ahead of his team’s Champions League defeat to City, he was asked about transfer rumours by the British media.
“First of all I’m here to win,” he replied. “I’m here to help Borussia Dortmund win the game and if I can play well and showcase my talent it’s a bonus.
“But I’m here to win for Borussia Dortmund hopefully and I’m very happy at the minute, focused on all the goals we have as a team, I’m not really looking past that.
“The club have done loads for me, made me feel very welcome since I first came and given me the opportunities to develop even further, so to look past that and look even further into the future would be disrespectful.
“It’s not something I’m looking at, I have a massive game against Manchester City, I think to even be thinking about something like that would be crazy and I’m really looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
It’s hard not to believe the England international when he speaks with such certainty, but clubs will already be preparing their bids for next summer, and Bellingham’s Anfield flirtations likely haven’t gone unnoticed by Jurgen Klopp and his employers.