Premier League side Liverpool were interested in signing a Norwegian teenager – but the midfielder is now expected to complete a transfer to Portuguese giants Benfica.
Norwegian talent Andreas Schjelderup, dubbed the ‘next Martin Odegaard’, has reportedly rejected the chance to join Liverpool for a second time.
Schjelderup, 18, is one of Norway’s most exciting young midfielders and has played more than 50 games for Danish Superliga side Nordsjaelland since arriving from Bodo/Glimt in July 2020. He’s now set for another transfer, but he’s not heading to Merseyside.
It’s believed Schjelderup, who is a self-confessed Liverpool fan, has decided to join Benfica in January instead. The youngster first rejected a move to Anfield in the summer of 2020, when the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich also showed an interest.
According Norwegian outlet TV2, Benfica’s recruitment team will arrive in Copenhagen shortly to sign Schjelderup in a NOK 150million (£12.4m) deal. That will make him the second most expensive Norwegian teenager in history after Erling Haaland, who was 19 when he joined Borussia Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg in a £17m transfer three years ago.
Schjelderup will reportedly be offered a five-and-a-half-year deal by Benfica, which is likely to include a big transfer release clause. Personal terms are yet to be finalised, although it’s said the player believes Benfica is the perfect place to continue his development.
The Portuguese giants, who are currently six points clear at the top of the Primeira Liga, have a reputation for developing young players. The likes of Enzo Fernandez, Darwin Nunez, Ruben Dias and Victor Lindelof have all flourished at Benfica in recent years.
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It seems Schjelderup is planning on following in their footsteps over the new few years. The teenager is yet to make his senior debut for Norway but is often compared to Odegaard, who famously made his international bow as a 15-year-old in August 2014.
Odegaard joined Real Madrid the following January and there were concerns he wouldn’t live up to the hype after failing to nail down a spot in the Spanish capital and being sent out on loan. Yet the 24-year-old is now impressing as captain of Arsenal and Norway.
Schjelderup revealed Liverpool’s interest in him when he joined Nordsjaelland two-and-a-half years ago. As quoted by The Express, he told reporters: “I visited Ajax four times, PSV four times, Tottenham, Liverpool, Juventus, Fulham, Atalanta and Bayern Munich.
They [Nordsjaelland] are a club that has shown that they give young players a chance and spend enormous resources on player development.”
Liverpool also sent a scout to take another look at Schjelderup during Nordsjaelland’s goalless draw against Midtjylland in November. That’s according to Ekstra Bladet, who claim that Ajax, Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen were also looking at the youngster.
Liverpool are on the hunt for a new central midfielder but are not expected to sign anyone in January. It’s thought their targets include Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham and Benfica’s Fernandez – as well as Brighton pair Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister.