Liverpool rivals round-up: Man United has been handed a ‘stupid’ warning regarding its takeover, while Man City is growing confident on Jude Bellingham.
It’s hard to know which would be worse for Liverpool: losing out on Jude Bellingham, or seeing Manchester City get him. There’s still a lot that needs to happen before that particular conundrum becomes a reality, but it’s an unpleasant thought.
Yesterday, that scenario appeared to edge a step closer, when The Athletic reported that Liverpool is ‘increasingly unlikely’ to sign Bellingham in the summer, citing the costs involved in the deal and the greater funds available to rivals. That information has been available for a while, so it’s a mystery why it would suddenly change the thinking of FSG, but Manchester City certainly falls into the category of richer suitors.
Pep Guardiola’s team is richer, too, than Real Madrid, with the wealth of the Premier League rapidly shooting stratospheres above European rivals. Perhaps that’s why one report claims Manchester City is growing ‘confident’ of landing Bellingham, engineering what would be a reunion with Erling Haaland.
The concerning news just keeps coming out of Manchester, with Guardiola’s city rivals in the process of receiving takeover bids. Should Manchester United end up with a similarly rich backer, it would make it even harder for FSG to keep Liverpool competitive.
However, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has issued a ‘stupid’ warning. As one of the individuals most consistently linked with buying the club, it’s an interesting development.
Here, Liverpool.com takes a scan around the other big sides in the Premier League and around Europe to take a look at the news going on at the other clubs.
Man City ‘confident’ on Bellingham
Barely a day out from the original story, numerous similar lines have been spun on Bellingham. Sky Sports branded both Liverpool’s on-pitch issues and the costs involved in any deal as ‘problematic’, while ESPN has just dealt a further blow.
In its latest Bellingham update, it relegates Liverpool to a place alongside Manchester United in the ‘also interested’ pile, framing the race primarily as one between Manchester City and Real Madrid. Furthermore, it claims Guardiola’s side is ‘growing confident’ of completing a deal.
With Bernardo Silva wanted once again by various European clubs, and İlkay Gündoğan set to leave on a free transfer as things stand, it is perhaps unfortunate that Manchester City will be examining its midfield needs at much the same time as Liverpool. The rapidly-emerging consensus is that it will be hard for FSG to win that battle.
However, it’s not all been doom and gloom on Bellingham today, with David Lynch reporting that Liverpool remains in the hunt for his signature. He remains an ‘active target’, and while a bidding war could cause problems, there is a belief that the preferences of the player will be key to concluding a deal.
Liverpool.com says: Seeing Bellingham line up for Manchester City would be an absolute sickener. It’s always been a possibility, but rumbles of growing confidence are alarming. He is truly a generational talent, and seeing him join Guardiola would send a message that the existing hierarchy from the last few years is getting locked in.
Conversely, if Liverpool were still able to pull off a deal, it would be an act of defiance. It would proclaim that Klopp’s side intends not to shrink back from its peak era, but to continue developing, and ultimately to not only challenge but overthrow Manchester City at the top of the English game. It’s fair to say this transfer saga has come to represent more than just a single player.
‘Stupid’ Manchester United warning
Mere days after The Athletic reported that Liverpool was up for sale, Manchester United stole its thunder, with news that the Glazer family could be ready to sanction a takeover at Old Trafford.
And it is the latter process that has snowballed. Whether by coincidence or not, the Liverpool sale went nowhere, with John Henry having since confirmed that the club is now seeking a minority investor instead. Meanwhile, Manchester United has set a deadline for a second round of bids, with up to eight offers expected by tomorrow.
The two declared bidders are Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani and UK billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe. But in an interview with WSJ, the latter has issued a stark ‘warning’.
How do you decide the price of a painting? How do you decide the price of a house?” he questioned.
“It’s not related to how much it cost to build or how much it cost to paint. What you don’t want to do is pay stupid prices for things because then you regret it subsequently.”
Ratcliffe’s analogy highlights some of the intangible assets of football clubs, which in the case of an outfit like Manchester United or Liverpool includes a hyper-engaged and loyal fanbase — something equally appealing to a businessman or a state-backed project, albeit for different reasons. But his refusal to pay a ‘stupid’ price shows that even in this world of barely comprehensible figures, there is a line.
Liverpool.com says: In one sense, a hyper-rich Manchester United takeover arguably wouldn’t change all that much, with the Red Devils the only English side to keep pace or even outstrip the transfer spending of Manchester City over the last decade or so. But it’s about far more than transfer outlay, and owners with a huge capacity to spend would surely waste little time in doing a top-to-bottom modernization of the club and its infrastructure.
Arguably, anyone rich enough to buy Manchester United at this point would have to pay ‘stupid’ money anyway, and would certainly then have money left over to invest. But given the reported sky-high valuation of the Glazers, perhaps nobody will be willing to go high enough — FSG certainly seemed to find the market wanting when it sounded out a Liverpool sale. The Reds will not be lamenting the end of its modern dominance over its historic rival just yet.