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Liverpool respond swiftly to Man City rumours in bid to win race for ‘scary’ £101m midfield sensation

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Liverpool are reportedly stepping up their bid to sign Jude Bellingham after rumours that Premier League title rivals Manchester City have done likewise.

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola are both known to be huge admirers of the Borussia Dortmund and England youngster, who continues to earn plaudits from across Europe for performances well beyond his tender age.

The 18-year-old has been involved in 27 goals for Dortmund in 85 appearances since signing from Birmingham for £22.5million in 2020.

That has led to plenty of interest from England and Spain for Bellingham. Indeed, LaLiga giants Real Madrid also plotting a move for the youngster.

But it’s City’s sudden upturn in interest that is sparking Liverpool to respond.

A report on Saturday revealed that Guardiola is keen on pairing Bellingham with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish at The Etihad, although strangely not Raheem Sterling who could, seemingly, be on his way.

Quite where Bellingham fits into a packed City midfield remains to be seen. Fernandinho is comfortably the oldest player in City’s engine room, but Bellingham does not play the holding role and is better used as an attacking threat.

As for the Reds, there is a school of thought that Bellingham would take on the Thiago role at Anfield.

Thiago is now 30 and still one of the better passers in European football. However, Bellingham would give Klopp a more dynamic presence in midfield and has more goals in him.

Bellingham a ‘scary’ prospect

Indeed, one pundit who is a big fan of the player is Premier League legend Roy Keane. Having previously described the Dortmund starlet’s talent as ‘scary’, he continued his praise after England recently thumped Ivory Coast in a Wembley friendly.

The former Manchester United star said of Bellingham: “He’s so mature, he’s got everything in his locker. Can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s an amazing talent. He’s going to be a mainstay for England for the next 10-15 years.”

However, the one stumbling block to overcome for any suitors will be Dortmund’s asking price.

A figure of £125m has been mooted but more realistic reports of a figure around £101m seem more likely.

But for Dortmund, the question remains whether they are willing to offload both Bellingham and Erling Haaland this summer. Selling one and then reinvesting in their squad appears the more logical option. But if two huge offers come in it will be a tough decision not to buckle.

READ MORE: Mo Salah dropped to the Liverpool bench? Jurgen Klopp has his say

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Paul Ince outlines key Reading FC transfer aim ahead of the 2022/23 campaign

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Reading boss Paul Ince believes his side must recruit enough players to form a functioning squad before the start of pre-season, speaking to the Championship side’s media team.

The Royals have endured slow starts to their summer in recent seasons, with the club failing to recruit a single player until August last year because of their transfer embargo, meaning they started the 2021/22 campaign without a senior left-back in their squad.

Ince’s side should be able to move more swiftly in the coming days and weeks though with the Berkshire outfit finding out the budget they needed to work within last November as part of a business plan they agreed with the EFL.

Quiz: Can you name which club Reading FC sold these 23 players to from the last decade?

Although they will need to reduce their wage bill to avoid a further six-point deduction, several key first-teamers are on course to leave in less than two months on the expiration of their current contracts.

The second-tier side have moved to try and tie some of these players down to fresh terms, offering John Swift, Junior Hoilett, Femi Azeez, Josh Laurent, Andy Rinomhota and Tom Holmes new contracts and are close to agreeing a deal with Andy Yiadom.

Regardless of whether they sign on the dotted line or not, Ince wants to have some form of squad ready for pre-season as the Royals look to remain afloat in the second tier once again next term.

He said: “Firstly, we need to try to get some players signed up and some new players in.

“Last summer half of the lads who were playing for us didn’t have a pre-season – there were only about seven or eight senior players here for the pre-season weeks. We can’t have that again.

“So I’ll be working hard to make sure we have some sort of squad available to us at the start of pre-season.”

The Verdict:

You could tell that late transfer business hampered the Royals during the 2019/20 and 2021/22 seasons, with the second-tier side bringing in several impressive additions during the former campaign.

However, the likes of Pele, George Puscas and Lucas Joao all had to adapt to life in Berkshire very quickly because of this and although they managed to stabilise themselves after a tricky first couple of months under Jose Gomes, you just feel that group of players would have benefitted from having a pre-season with each other.

Fast forward to now – and the situation is even more uncertain with so many key players out of contract. If every player that’s out of contract this summer leaves, they are in desperate trouble and this is why they will be working around the clock to get as many of these players tied down as quickly as possible.

The fact they seem to be closing in on an agreement with Yiadom is a big plus and Holmes is another player that could potentially stay considering his ties with the Royals – but it remains to be seen whether others put pen to paper.

They should be almost resigned to losing Swift though – because he could easily secure a move to a team higher in the second tier following an impressive season – recording 11 goals and 13 assists this term.

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Contract update emerges as six players are set to leave Reading FC

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Championship outfit Reading are set to release Orjan Nyland, Terell Thomas, Brandon Barker, Alen Halilovic, Felipe Arauna and Marc McNulty this summer, according to an update from Berkshire Live.

The Royals have several first-teamers out of contract this summer and will be keen to tie many of those players down to new deals – but will be forced to release some due to the need to reduce their wage bill.

If they fail to do so, they will be punished with a further six-point sanction from the EFL next term with the governing body and the second-tier side agreeing to a business plan back in November.

Quiz: Can you name which club Reading FC sold these 23 players to from the last decade?

This hasn’t stopped the second-tier outfit from attempting to strike agreements with some of their key assets though, with Andy Yiadom, John Swift, Josh Laurent, Tom Holmes, Andy Rinomhota, Femi Azeez and Junior Hoilett all thought to have been offered new deals.

According to the same outlet, Swift has been offered a new three-year deal at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, though it’s currently unclear whether he will put pen to paper with interest from elsewhere. Yiadom is expected to extend his stay in Berkshire though.

Six players that may not be so lucky are Nyland, Thomas, Barker, Halilovic, Araruna and McNulty, with the latter five failing to make a real impact during their time at the club. Nyland, however, was one of the first names on the teamsheet during his short time at the club after joining in March.

The Verdict:

The Royals have made good decisions on the latter five if this report is on the money – because none of them really did enough to earn themselves fresh terms at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

In fact, the man who could probably feel most aggrieved out of the quintet is Terell Thomas who didn’t put a foot wrong during his two games for the club but didn’t get enough time on the pitch to prove his worth.

Unfortunately, Halilovic wasn’t fit enough to earn fresh terms and like Thomas, Barker didn’t play enough either.

The less said about McNulty’s time in Berkshire the better – and all parties will be happy to move on including the player who never really had the chance to show his worth. In fairness though, he didn’t exactly do enough when he did play, so the Royals were perhaps justified in sending him elsewhere.

Nyland is perhaps a surprise departure though – because many people would see the Norwegian as a solid second-tier keeper despite his errors against Stoke City and Luton Town. However, he is certainly replaceable.

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