Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has lavished praise on Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham as his charm offensive continues.
Already a known admirer of England’s World Cup superstar, the German has spoken on the midfielder multiple occasions.
Only one of Europe’s giants will now be able to claim the 19-year-old in an upcoming transfer window given his incredible talents.
But Klopp’s Liverpool have hit the skids this season, underperforming and currently sitting seven points off fourth place before the resumption of the Premier League on Boxing Day.
Missing out on Champions League, and the money that comes with it is a possibility, while the club also spent £64million on Darwin Nunez in the summer, with that fee potentially rising another £20m.
Asked whether Bellingham’s World Cup performances could put him out of Anfield’s financial reach, Klopp replied: “I don’t like to talk about money when you talk about a player like him. Everyone can see he is just exceptional.
“If you mention to someone who has no clue about football: ‘How old do you think Jude Bellingham is?’ I don’t think anyone would get even close to his age. They would say 28 or 29 because he plays so mature.
“He played an exceptional World Cup. Absolutely exceptional. With all the things he has and things he can improve, to describe him I would say the things he can do are difficult to learn, and the things he can improve are easy to learn. He is a really good player.
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“What can I say? I have thought that already for two or three years since he had his breakthrough at Dortmund. Everybody knew already but I have no idea what that means for the money side of it. I really think if we all want to do him a favour then we do not talk too much about money. I mean that from an England point of view. Do not throw any hurdles in his development.”
As well as the money, the potential lack of Champions League football could also dent Liverpool’s hopes, with Real Madrid a rival for his signature.
Klopp, though, has brushed off this talk, insisting any player not wanting to join the club if they miss out on top four isn’t one he would want to sign anyway.
“It is very important for the club and that is our main target now,” the Liverpool manager said. “It is important but, from a transfer perspective, generally we have a good chance to qualify for the Champions League. Will it happen this year? I don’t know. But 100 per cent we are one of the contenders for the next few years again.
“If you ask a player and he says: ‘Next year you are not in the Champions League and I would prefer to go to a football club who plays this year’, then I am not sure I would still want this player, to be honest.
“I understand it 100 per cent – I want to be in the Champions League all the time. For the moment we have two pathways still to qualify for the Champions League next year. As long as that is the case, I see ourselves as proper contenders for Champions League qualification.”
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