Jude Bellingham vs Enzo Fernandez: Who should Liverpool sign?
It’s football’s worst-kept secret at this point that Liverpool need a new midfielder.
The Reds’ midfield has looked incredibly worn-out at times this season, with Jordan Henderson on the decline and Thiago Alcantara struggling for fitness.
Holding midfielder Fabinho has looked a shadow of the player he was in 2019, while the likes of Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho are still a long way from being the finished article.
The drop-off in quality in the middle of the park has made Liverpool far less effective at their intense pressing style, making them easier to play through and horribly exposing their defensive line – as Trent Alexander-Arnold will attest.
The good news is that Jurgen Klopp could have a new midfielder to play with soon enough. 90min understands Moroccan World Cup star Sofyan Amrabat is high on the wish list, but the real fun could come in the summer when £100m+ price tags will come into play.
The two big names being linked with a move to Anfield at present are Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham and Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez. Both are young, hungry talents with immense ability and potential, each having had a stellar World Cup with their respective nations that has sent their transver value skyrocketing.
Either player would be a great signing – but which one is a better fit for Liverpool at this moment in time?
How we all laughed a couple of years ago when Birmingham City retired the shirt number of 16-year-old Jude Bellingham after he made the move to Borussia Dortmund. Turns out they knew something we didn’t.
Now aged 19, Bellingham is already an absolute monster and will only get better in the years to come. Impeccably composed on the ball, with the ability to beat a man, time a run or pick a pass, the Dudley-born dynamo can essentially operate as whatever kind of midfielder he needs to be for the occasion.
There’s more than a touch of Gini Wijnaldum in the way Bellingham plays – a man whose influence Liverpool have sorely missed in the past 18 months. Dortmund will encourage a bidding war for Bellingham to receive the best possible fee, but Liverpool need to pounce if there’s any chance of him going to Anfield.
Enzo Fernandez only joined Benfica five months ago for a fee of €10m, but the 21-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise since then.
After making his debut for the senior Argentina side in September, Fernandez became the second-youngest player to score for La Albiceleste at the World Cup with a gorgeous finish against Mexico. Fernandez’s influence in the side only grew from there, resulting in him winning Young Player of the Tournament as Argentina won the famous trophy for the third time.
In terms of playing style, Fernandez operates most frequently as a deep-lying playmaker, breaking up play and recycling possession. Like Bellingham, he is notably versatile and can essentially play anywhere in midfield due to his passing range and lack of major weaknesses; however, he is much more of a traditional number six to Bellingham’s eight.
After the World Cup campaigns these two players had, their transfer value has inflated beyond belief. Liverpool will most likely have to pay north of £100m to land either of these players, with Bellingham probably closer to the £150m mark at this point.
Fernandez is an excellent young player with a bright future ahead of him and we will almost certainly see him in the Premier League sooner or later. In Liverpool’s case, however, Bellingham may be the better fit for the team Klopp has built.
As a deep-lying midfielder, Fernandez would likely find himself competing with Fabinho for playing time. While Fabinho has been seriously off the ball this season, the Brazillian is too young to be past his best and is likely suffering from a mixture of exhaustion and the consequences of Liverpool’s other midfielders ageing.
Bellingham, on the other hand, would slot straight into the Reds’ midfield and be able to play next to the midfielders who still have a future at the club. His movement and energy would allow him to contribute to attacks, while he possesses the positional and defensive acumen to allow a more attack-minded player like Elliott to roam forwards. On top of that, he’s home-grown, which is always an added bonus for Premier League clubs.
These are two of world football’s greatest young midfield talents, and either one would represent quite the coup for Liverpool. Ultimately, though, it is Bellingham who makes more sense for the club at this moment in time.
Man Utd ready Kane bid; Tuchel eyes Mount reunion at Bayern
90min rounds up the latest transfer news, rumours and gossip circulating around the world…
Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold is ready to sanction a move for Harry Kane, with the Red Devils set to offer £80m for the Tottenham striker. (Daily Star)
However, Manchester United are no closer to agreeing a new contract with Marcus Rashford, whose deal expires in 2024. (The Athletic)
Arsenal are one of several clubs vying to sign Denmark international Jesper Lindstrom, with Eintracht Frankfurt ready to sell for a fee of €30m. (Sport1)
Real Madrid are hoping to sign Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich this summer amid speculation that his future at the Allianz Arena is uncertain. (Fichajes)
Following Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, Bayern Munich are prepared to reunite their new manager with Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount. (The Times)
Barcelona are willing to re-sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Chelsea on loan this summer. The Gabon striker only made the switch from Camp Nou to Stamford Bridge back in August. (Sport)
Liverpool have joined Arsenal and Tottenham in the race to sign Evan Ndicka on a free transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt. (Daily Mirror)
Another centre-back target for Liverpool is Napoli’s Kim Min-jae, who is also wanted by Manchester United. (Rai)
Manchester City are ready to replace Ilkay Gundogan with either Jude Bellingham or Florian Wirtz in the event he departs for Barcelona on a free transfer. (Football Insider)
The father of Barcelona winger Ansu Fati has hit out at the club for their treatment of the winger, though insisted he wants to stay at the club. (COPE)
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss Julian Nagelsmann’s future and links to the vacant Tottenham head coach role, Barcelona’s ambition to bring Lionel Messi ‘home’, Brighton teenager Evan Ferguson, Florian Wirtz, Kalvin Phillips and more!
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Chelsea join race for Gladbach midfielder Manu Kone
Chelsea have registered an interest in Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Manu Kone, 90min understands.
The Blues are looking to bolster in midfield this summer and have added plenty of names to their shortlist, at the top of which is West Ham United’s Declan Rice.
There are plenty of suitors for Rice, however, and so Chelsea are exploring all their options. 90min reported in January that Southampton’s Romeo Lavia was once again of interest to the London side, who failed with a bid to sign the Belgian last summer.
Now, sources have confirmed that Gladbach starlet Kone has played his way onto Chelsea’s radar.
The 21-year-old defensive midfielder has been sensational for Gladbach and has attracted significant interest from across Europe, with Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain both known admirers of Kone.
In the Premier League, Liverpool and Newcastle have both scouted Kone this year ahead of a summer departure from Gladbach which is becoming increasingly likely.
Chelsea are now firmly in the fight for Kone who, at 21, fits the profile for the Blues’ new owners as a young star with plenty of top-flight potential.
Kone was recently asked about the interest in him, admitting to Le Parisien that he is honoured to see so many big clubs watching him.
“I live well with rumours, I don’t pay attention to everything that is said. It’s more my entourage and my friends who send me the articles,” he explained. “It’s a source of pride for them to see my name associated with big clubs, but it doesn’t make me hot or cold. I prefer to finish my season quietly. Afterward, what must happen will happen.”
Asked specifically about the interest of PSG and a possible return to the city of his birth, Paris, Kone insisted the only deciding factor for him when it comes to a transfer would be the game time on offer.
“It’s true that I’m Parisian,” he acknowledged. “I was born and trained here. There is a logical link.
“But whether it’s Paris or another club, I don’t care. I just want to play football. In Monchengladbach, I play. So if I have to leave, I’ll think about playing first.”
Josko Gvardiol reveals Pep Guardiola chat & confirms RB Leipzig transfer stance
RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol has confessed the club have no interest in selling him this summer, despite widespread interest from across Europe.
The likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid have all expressed an interest in the 21-year-old, who penned a contract extension last summer to tie him to the Bundesliga side until 2027.
90min understands Gvardiol’s contract includes a release clause of €100m which becomes active in 2024, so any sale this year will have to be negotiated directly with Leipzig – something Gvardiol does not believe his current employers are prepared to do.
“The club is not interested in selling me this summer, so there is no point in talking about anything else,” Gvardiol told a press conference.
“The most important thing is to end this season in Leipzig in the best possible way.”
Among Gvardiol’s suitors are Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, after whom the Leipzig defender is nicknamed due to the similarities in their surnames.
The due were seen speaking after City’s Champions League last-16 victory over Leipzig earlier this month, but Gvardiol declined to reveal what was said.
“I extended my hand to Guardiola and congratulated him on advancing in the Champions League,” the defender said. “Guardiola, a great coach, threw a few words at me, but I will keep them to myself.”
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss the race to sign Jude Bellingham, Roy Hodgson’s return to Crystal Palace, Erling Haaland’s contract, Mason Mount & more!
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