Jude Bellingham is Liverpool’s main midfield target for this summer but, with the team out of the Champions League and struggling to finish in the top four and qualify for the competition next season, Jürgen Klopp may have to look elsewhere. Liverpool may regret not acting quicker. The 19-year-old has been the driving force behind Borussia Dortmund’s title bid and is our top rated player in the Bundesliga this season. If Dortmund do clinch their first title in over a decade – they are a point clear of Bayern at the top – it could be a perfect time for Bellingham to leave.
As Bellingham showed at the World Cup, he is a jack of all trades midfielder who is on his way to becoming a master. The teenager ranks fifth for tackles (62), second for dribbles (62) and is the second most fouled player (61) in the Bundesliga this season. With four goals and four assists to his name, he can do it all. His contract lasts until the summer of 2025 and does not have a release clause, so Dortmund will want a very high bid to sell. That is good news for Manchester City and Real Madrid, but not Liverpool.
Ryan Gravenberch’s time at Bayern Munich has not gone quite according to plan. Fourteen of his 15 league appearances this season have come from the bench following his arrival from Ajax last summer, and he has mustered just 307 minutes of game time in the Bundesliga. With that in mind, a potential exit is on the cards for the young Dutchman.
Just like Bellingham and Gabri Veiga, Gravenberch is an effective ball carrier – he made 2.6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes in his final season at Ajax. He is also willing to get stuck in for the good of the team. A lack of minutes this season has stunted his growth, but Gravenberch is still only 20 years of age and Liverpool could benefit from adding such a talented young central midfielder to their ranks.
Gabri Veiga has exploded on to the scene this season. The 20-year-old has scored nine goals and provided three assists for Celta Vigo, keeping them well clear of the relegation zone in La Liga.
Veiga’s performances have attracted interest from Spain and abroad. Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool are believed to be monitoring the youngster. Veiga is making a respectable two tackles per 90 minutes this season, and has shown a willingness to drive his team forward from deep, chipping in with 1.7 dribbles per 90. With a rumoured €40m release clause, there could be a scramble for the Spaniard this summer.
Liverpool may opt to add some experience in midfield. Otávio, now 28, would be one for the here and now. He was born in Brazil and came through the academy at Internacional in Porto Alegre, before moving to Porto in 2014 and representing Portugal after becoming a citizen in 2021.
He is an effective ball winner and a fine creator: his tally of 49 tackles ranks 18th in the Primeira Liga this season and his 41 key passes is the ninth highest. Only three players have won possession in the attacking third more times than Otávio (23). Considering he missed a handful of games earlier this year due to injury, that’s a commendable return for the midfielder. Able to play out wide as well as through the middle, Otávio’s versatility may appeal to Klopp.
Another on the more experienced side, Youri Tielemans is unlikely to be a Leicester player next season. He is out of contract in the summer and there are no indications he will extend his stay, which means he will be available as a free agent before too long. Of course, he has a lengthy list of potential suitors, with Manchester United and Arsenal both keen.
Liverpool should be considering a move for the 25-year-old Belgian. In a struggling Leicester side, Tielemans has scored three goals and assisted once this season, and he continues to work hard out of possession, making 2.5 tackles per 90 minutes. This has been a disappointing season for everyone at Leicester, but he is a classy player with Premier League experience and would be a bargain. If money is an issue for Liverpool, he could be an ideal signing.
Borussia Dortmund reportedly scouted Turkish youngster Orkun Kokcu earlier this season as a potential replacement for Bellingham. Liverpool could do a lot worse than cut out the middleman and sign the 22-year-old directly from Feyenoord.
Following their 3-2 win at Ajax on Sunday, Feyenoord sit six points clear at the top of the Eredivisie. Kokcu has been a key cog in the midfield for Arne Slot’s side in their bid to secure their first league title in six years. He is a creative presence, ranking third for passes per game (72.3) and second for key passes per game (2.9) in the Dutch top tier this season. He does not have as many attributes as Bellingham, but would give Klopp a different option in the middle of the park.
Having recently returned from injury, Florian Wirtz has been making up for lost time with Bayer Leverkusen. The young Germany midfielder has only made nine appearances in the Bundesliga this season – four of which have been from the bench – but he has still set up four goals for Bayer.
A stint on the sidelines has not affected the 19-year-old, who has also had to deal with a change in manager and a change in his responsibilities in the team. Even though he operates high up the pitch, Wirtz is still averaging 2.2 tackles per 90 minutes, and is more than capable of bringing the ball forward to pry apart defences – as shown by his return of 3.4 successful dribbles per 90. He usually plays as a No10 or frontman for Bayer, so would have to change his game slightly to suit Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 system, but it would not be beyond Wirtz to adjust.
Liverpool were linked with Aurélien Tchouaméni last summer, only for Real Madrid to sign the Frenchman from Monaco for €100m, but the Ligue 1 club have another young midfielder who may interest Klopp. Youssouf Fofana has been a regular for the club this season and, while Monaco have not been at their best, the 24-year-old has done well in the middle of the park.
Fofana is hugely impressive off the ball. He has won possession in the midfield third 119 times in Ligue 1 this season – a record only two players can beat – and he is making 2.5 tackles per 90 minutes. Tchouaméni was the poster boy for Monaco’s midfield last season; since his departure Fofana has stepped out of his compatriot’s shadow to shine for Philippe Clement’s side.