Jurgen Klopp’s position on Liverpool’s midfield hasn’t changed, despite injuries in the position impacting the Reds’ start to the season.
Curtis Jones has been unavailable for the opening Premier League fixtures, with Thiago joining his teammate on the treatment table after making way during the opening-weekend draw with Fulham.
Naby Keita’s reported unhappiness might have prompted Klopp to dip into the market, but the German has no such plans at the moment.
One of the men who has long been linked with the Merseyside club is Jude Bellingham, and there had been suggestions Klopp might attempt a raid on former club Borussia Dortmund this summer.
However, based on the manager’s comments about potentially replacing Keita, things might not have changed as drastically as first thought.
“If the right player is not available then we tend to say ‘ok we deal with what we have before we sign a player who is not 100 per cent the right player. Right,” Klopp said ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Manchester United. “So this situation never changed.
“Now we have more injuries than we would have imagined, and now would be cool to have a new midfielder in, of course now. And then there would be another fact: we are not in charge of what we spend, we are not. That’s the situation, we get things told and then we deal with it. It was always the same, never different.”
Klopp has often preferred to do his business early in a transfer window, allowing new arrivals time to bed in. That was the case both this summer – with Darwin Nunez one of three new signings – and last year with the arrival of Ibrahima Konate.
There will always be exceptions, of course. Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz both arrived late in their respective windows, but only when Liverpool identified a need in their squad and perhaps felt the need to act amid interest from elsewhere.
The second of these issues could yet reemerge if Real Madrid decide to move for Bellingham as a replacement for Casemiro. However, assuming that scenario is avoided, it would be a big surprise to see Liverpool rush things through.
Keita is reportedly unhappy with how his contract discussions have developed, prompting talk of a summer departure. Still, Klopp has shown a willingness to stick with players whose contracts are running down – most notably Gini Wijnaldum – while taking his time to decide how his team will set up once that cog is removed.
It’s not as if Bellingham has been left in any doubt about Liverpool’s interest. While it has been clear that midfield is not a priority position for the Reds this summer, the Dortmund star remains very much on their radar.
Bellingham has also joined Dortmund’s leadership group for this season, potentially giving Liverpool a greater incentive to bide their time. If a move isn’t urgent, a year in a role with greater responsibility could benefit the former Birmingham City prodigy.
Liverpool’s former captain Jamie Carragher remains convinced a deal for Bellingham in 2023 is all but confirmed, and this would certainly explain the club’s apparent relaxed attitude.
It might also explain why the Reds declined to push too hard for Matheus Nunes, allowing the Portugal international to join Wolves.
Yes, a time will arrive when Liverpool need to refresh their midfield, as they have done gradually with their front three over the last few windows.
Still, based on Klopp’s latest comments, we shouldn’t expect Liverpool to sign anyone without a longer-term plan in place, and the Bellingham interest certainly falls into that category.