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Exclusive: Steve McMahon confident Jude Bellingham would be ‘ammunition’ to get Liverpool firing

‘Jordan Henderson and James Milner have been magnificent servants, but every team needs to be rebooted from time to time’

Jurgen Klopp© PA

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Anfield legend Steve McMahon believes the area of the team he used to patrol needs ‘freshening up’ after a challenging start to the season.

Injuries have ripped through Liverpool’s midfield reserves over the last few weeks, with Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain clogging up an over-crowded treatment room.

And McMahon believes the midfield engine room requires some minor surgery, as Klopp looks to find a new heartbeat to his side that can bolster the defensive line and provide the ammunition to his forwards.

“There are couple of fundamental areas of the team that need to be freshened up and the midfield is clearly one of them,” said three-time title winner McMahon, speaking exclusively to the Sunday World.

“Jordan Henderson and James Milner have been magnificent servants for Liverpool in recent years, but every team needs to be rebooted from time to time and it feels like the midfield needs something different now.

“I’m not telling Jurgen Klopp how to manage his team here because he has been a fantastic manager for Liverpool, but I’m sure he knows it is an area of the team he needs to look at.

“When I look at Manchester City and I see Kevin De Bruyne and all these magnificent creative players in there, they have so many playmakers, people who can make things happen.

“You can’t beat creativity and when you look at the front three Liverpool have, they need the ammunition to do what they do best.

“I’m not too worried about Liverpool because I have faith in Klopp to get it right and in Jude Bellingham, they seem to be chasing a player who could be perfect to give them a new dimension.

“He is young, English, talented and the kind of player Klopp could turn into a world beater. That would be a brilliant signing, even if he does cost £100million.

“Bellingham would be expensive, but you look at what City did with Erling Haaland last summer and there are some players who are worth paying big money for.

“Haaland’s fee was relatively low and I’m sure they had to give agents and a few others plenty of cash to get it done, but it’s good business.

“Look at the impact he has had on Manchester City and that’s the kind of player Liverpool need now. Bellingham could do something similar an Anfield next season.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Jude Bellingham of England controls the ball during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on September 26, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)© Getty Images

Liverpool will face stiff competition to land Bellingham and City are among those likely to be in the mix for his signature, but the Anfield club have made it clear that they are keen to sign the England youngster from Borussia Dortmund.

It would be a signing that confirms Liverpool can compete financially with Europe’s biggest clubs, with McMahon suggesting their woes over the first two months of this season should not be hailed as a crisis.

Klopp described his side’s 4-1 hammering against Napoli in the Champions League last month as the worst performance of his tenure as Reds boss, but McMahon insists the panic button does not need to be hit yet.

Two games against Rangers in the Champions League will sandwich a crucial Premier League game against Arsenal next weekend and at the end of that run of fixtures, McMahon believes Liverpool could be in a much better position.

“You are going to get blips with teams over the course of four or five year period and Liverpool are in the midst of a transition,” he continues.

“I wouldn’t say the title is out of Liverpool’s reach after seven games, but it will be tricky to keep pace with Man City unless they start showing more consistency.

“That said, it’s very hard to make a judgement as to where we are at this moment. Games have been cancelled, the World Cup is coming up in the middle of the season and everything is all over the place at the moment.

“To be as far behind Manchester City as they are is a problem because you need them to lose three or four games to give you a chance to get back in the mix.

“Liverpool also have to go on a winning run and that has not looked likely so far this season, so it’s going to be difficult.

“The Champions League is the one Liverpool could go for again this season. Rangers are coming up over the next couple of weeks and they look like being the whipping boys in that group.

“So Liverpool have to get the wins against them and then look to get something from the Ajax away game and Napoli at home.

“This group is still very winnable and you can still see Liverpool going on a good run in this competition.

“You only have to win a few games and you are suddenly in the quarter-finals, semi-finals. It’s different in the league as you need to be consistent over 38 games.”

John Aldridge has expressed his concerns over Mohamed Salah’s form in his Sunday World column over the last few weeks, with his former Liverpool team-mate offering a theory why he has been off the pace.

“Salah has looked a bit off the pace at times this season, but that might be due, in part, to burn out,” adds McMahon.

“He has played a lot of football in the last year and has to go through all the emotions of getting to the African Cup of Nations final with Egypt and losing it on penalties.

“That will have taken a lot out of him emotionally, but the good thing for Liverpool is Egypt didn’t get through to the World Cup finals.

“So he can go away during that month, have a proper break and I’d expect him to come back firing in the second half of the season.

“The same goes for Darwin Nunez. We can’t really judge him yet because he missed a late chunk of the season with the suspension from his red card against Crystal Palace.

“Now it’s time for him to give Klopp and the fans something back and I’m sure he will do that. We have seen flashes of what he can do and I like the look of that, so hopefully he will be a great signing for Liverpool.”

Istanbul will provide the stage for this season’s Champions League final and after Liverpool were so famously crowned as European champions in that city back in 2005, more than a few of their fans may already be dreaming of a repeat next June.

Steve McMahon will be touring Ireland with fellow Liverpool legends Ronnie Whelan and Jan Molby next May. Tickets are available now.

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