‘My feeling is he likes the challenge’: Paul Merson shoots down Rio Ferdinand’s claims that Jude Bellingham WON’T move to Liverpool if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, claiming ‘it’s not about money, it’s about performing’
- Paul Merson says he thinks Jude Bellingham will still go to Liverpool this summer
- He may not chose to move if the Reds don’t qualify for the Champions League
- Merson believes that the Dortmund star will take a year out of the competition
Paul Merson has shot down claims that Jude Bellingham will not move to Liverpool if they do not qualify for the Champions League.
The Borussia Dortmund star’s contract is set to expire in 2025, but several clubs, including Liverpool and Real Madrid, have been heavily linked to sign him this summer.
Earlier in the week, Rio Ferdinand suggested that the 19-year-old may snub the Reds after they disappointingly crashed out of the Champions League to the Spanish giants on Wednesday night.
Liverpool currently sit sixth in the Premier League, six points off a Champions League berth, with questions are starting to rise over whether they can qualify for the European competition, with last weekend’s loss to Bournemouth pushing them further back in the standings.
Ferdinand told BT Sport: ‘If Real Madrid are in for me and Liverpool, there’s only one place I can go – and they [Liverpool] don’t finish in the Champions League as well maybe.’
Paul Merson claims Jude Bellingham (pictured) may still move to Liverpool this summer
Rio Ferdinand (pictured) had suggested that Bellingham may not want to go to Anfield if they do not qualify for the Champions League this season
But Merson has disagreed saying Bellingham may ‘like the challenge’ of moving to Liverpool
‘As a player – nothing to do with my allegiances to United or Liverpool – you look at it cold and you go: “I see more trophies here [at Madrid]”.’
Reports suggest the 19-year-old could be available for around £127m, with Sportsmail reporting that Madrid had made contact with the England midfielder last week.
But taking heed of the former Manchester United defender’s claims, Merson disagreed, claiming that Bellingham was ‘not an egotistical player’ and was ‘up for the challenge’ at Anfield.
‘I get where Rio Ferdinand is coming from when he says Jude Bellingham will be picking Real Madrid over Liverpool on the basis of their Champions League knockout clash,’ the former Arsenal midfielder wrote in his column in the Daily Star.
‘But I’ve read stories about Bellingham and his family and all they were ever interested in was ensuring he plays football when they picked Borussia Dortmund over Man United.
‘One year out of the Champions League at 19 isn’t going to define his career if Liverpool miss out on fourth. He’s not an egotistical player and my feeling is he likes the challenge.’
The Birmingham City academy graduate has, for some time, been touted as one of world football’s most exciting young prospects.
Since joining the Bundesliga club in 2020, the box-to-box midfielder has scored 20 times across 123 appearances for the club, but has mostly impressed with his excellent abilities on the ball and his maturity which is way beyond his years.
Ferdinand also lauded the midfielder back in November, claiming ‘he could be England captain now’ after he became one of the stand out players during England’s 2022 World Cup run.
Dubbed the ‘world’s oldest 19-year-old’ by his manager Edin Terzic, he has also gone on to captain the Bundesliga side this season.
And for Merson, his maturity and grounded nature may mean he would be happy to take a year out of the Champions League in order to play for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Jurgen Klopp’s side crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday to Real Madrid
Bellingham’s contract expires in 2025 with several big clubs in the running to acquire him
Bellingham has now been called up to Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 qualifiers squad
‘It’s alright playing in the Champions League but what’s the point if you don’t win it anyway? He’s an example for every kid out there, it’s not about money, it’s about performing.
‘I still think he might swallow a year out of the Champions League if Liverpool don’t qualify. He has a very long career ahead of him.’
Several clubs will be in the market for a new midfielder this summer, with Manchester United now also reportedly set to join the race to sign Bellingham.
But it seems a move to either Real Madrid or Liverpool is most likely for the Dortmund superstar, who was earlier this week, named in Gareth Southgate’s 25-man squad for England’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.