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Jude Bellingham ‘the only man on Liverpool list’ as Darwin Núñez could be eclipsed in pre-season

Liverpool are just days away from the start of pre-season, with the ‘break’ seeming to have passed in the blink of an eye. It will not be long before Darwin Núñez makes his eagerly-anticipated debut, but that’s just one of many exciting things on the horizon.

Away from the looming return of the Reds, transfer rumours continue to rumble on in the background. Specifically, links to Jude Bellingham are reaching fever pitch, with the prospect of a 2023 deal talked up in many corners.

We asked Liverpool fan Nick Sapia a few questions about the Reds.

Transfers appear to be finished for the summer. Are you happy with that, or should Liverpool be looking for one or two more?

Yes, I am happy, and I think this will ultimately be seen as a critical window in Liverpool’s evolution. Darwin Núñez is a statement signing, the club handled the Sadio Mané situation swiftly and deftly, and the potential of Fábio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay is exciting. The squad is set up for long-term success.

There is clamour for another midfielder, as it’s the one area of the squad where FSG haven’t made a significant refresh. Still, Liverpool have repeatedly proven that they will make the right choice over the expedient one, and I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt on this.

That said, Liverpool are always a little cheeky about their plans this time of year, and it wouldn’t shock me if there were a few more twists and turns.

Pre-season starts in less than a week! Who are you looking forward to watching ahead of the new campaign?

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It’s hard to believe! A new season is exciting, but I do feel for the players, who could probably use a slightly longer break. It will be an unorthodox pre-season given the quick turnaround and the unique season ahead of us.

Obviously, I can’t wait to see Núñez and Luis Díaz with a pre-season under their belts, but for me, it’s Curtis Jones. Suppose he can make a bit of a jump, find some more consistency, and put himself in the conversation to start every week. If that happens, we’ll have few worries about the midfield.

Jude Bellingham appears to be the obvious midfield target for 2023. Would he be the one for you, or is there anyone else you think worthy of a mention?

It does seem like he is the extent of the list at the moment, and it’s hard to argue against him. He ticks so many boxes at such a young age and is the obvious choice to build the next iteration of the midfield around.

He won’t come cheap, both in terms of fee and his wage demands, and there’s likely to be serious competition. If I’m building a target list behind Bellingham, I’d have Salzburg’s Luka Sučić next up, given that he’s of a similar age and looks like he has a lot of promise, and Nicolò Barella third on the list.

Anything else to mention?

I’m curious to see the tactical approach this season. I suspect we may see a lot more 4-2-3-1 with the likes of Roberto Firmino playing as an attacking midfielder. It seems clear that Jürgen Klopp is building a team of talented players with positional flexibility. I think he’ll want to find ways to get Firmino on the field with Núñez, Díaz and Mohamed Salah.

This formation will help get more combinations of players on the field at certain times, while resting other midfielders and offering a bit of unpredictability.

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