Liverpool should have bought Jude Bellingham and rebuilt around him

Graham Cummins on why the time was right for Pool to cash in on Virgil van Dijk and look to the future
Liverpool should have bought Jude Bellingham and rebuilt around him

Dortmund's Jude Bellingham celebrates after scoring. Picture: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

IN terms of looking at Liverpool FC as a business rather than a football club, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have to be admired.

Since assuming ownership of Liverpool in 2010, the American business, owned by John W. Henry, has managed to achieve success with the club with a more traditional business model.

While many other clubs in England have chased success or been successful because they can afford to waste hundreds of millions without worrying about balancing the books, FSG has used a more cautious approach.

Of course, people will point at the fact that Liverpool paid €80m for Virgil van Dijk, €70m for Alisson and €100m for Darwin Nunez. However, the majority of the combined €150m transfer fee for Van Dijk and Alisson was paid for by the €135m sale of Phillip Coutinho to Barcelona, and that €150m has been money well spent.

Nunez was bought at the going rate for a highly regarded striker in modern football and still has time to prove his worth.

Although he hasn’t ripped up many trees, he has improved and we must remember this is his first season in the toughest league in the world and that will take time for him to adapt to.

Although Liverpool fans brag about their net spend in comparison to others, and criticise those clubs that do have owners willing to pay over the odds on a player, I’m sure the Liverpool fans would only be more than happy if their owners suddenly decided bringing the best players to the club, no matter the cost, was more important than trying to balance the books.

However, as already seen with Jude Bellingham, that isn’t going to happen. If the owners feel that the cost of a player is above their valuation, they aren’t going to sign the player, even if he is the best young player in the world.

For me, I do believe that the Reds should have gone all out to sign Bellingham, even if it meant using their entire budget on him.

Bellingham turns just 20 in the summer, meaning even if the player cost over €120m, he could have played for Liverpool for five to six years and still be a very saleable asset.

The argument could be made that Liverpool can’t use their budget on just one player because they need to make several new additions to the side to be back challenging for the title.

However, sometimes one player if he is good enough, which Bellingham is, can make a big difference.

He could have joined Liverpool and made others around him better. Just look at how Van Dijk improved the rest of the Liverpool defenders when he arrived on Merseyside in 2018.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk. Picture: PA
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk. Picture: PA

Joe Matip has been excellent since van Dijk’s arrival because the Dutchman’s attributes were so good, it made things easier for him. Bellingham could have done the same for Liverpool.

Although I have praised van Dijk, he does seem past his best. Liverpool’s midfield has been highlighted as an area that needs strengthening, but so too does the centre of defence.


As I have already indicated, Liverpool is viewed as a business by FSG. What good businesses do, is sell at the right time.

Although van Dijk is a hero on Merseyside, as without him Liverpool would have never ended their 30-year wait for a league title in 2020, he isn’t getting any younger. Yet he would still generate a hefty transfer fee were the Reds to cash in on the player this summer.

Why not move on a 31-year-old, who is showing signs that he is in decline?

Get €40-50m for Van Dijk, and replace him with a younger player, who is at an age where he can improve.

I understand that van Dijk is a leader in the Liverpool team, and that will be hard to replace, but it could also be good that he leaves.

He strikes me as someone that is arrogant and makes others around him feel inferior. Perhaps were he to leave, other leaders would emerge as they feel free to do so. If Liverpool are planning a major squad overhaul and FSG continue with their transfer policy, then no player should be safe in this squad because either they are underperforming like Van Dijk, or they could command a substantial transfer fee such as Mohammed Salah.

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