Liverpool lead chase for Bellingham

Liverpool are viewed as the favourites to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, multiple sources told ESPN, and are leading the chase despite Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid also tracking the 19-year-old.

One source connected to a rival bidding club believes Liverpool are forging a close relationship with the player's camp which could prove a significant factor. Another source said the broad framework of a deal to take Bellingham to Anfield may even be advancing, although both the player and his father, Mark, have previously publicly dismissed the idea a decision on his next club has been made.

Dortmund are expected to allow Bellingham to depart either in January or, far more likely, next summer and the most obvious glimmer of hope for Liverpool's rivals comes in the Bundesliga club's valuation.

It was believed Dortmund would accept a fee in the region of €100 million but reports this week suggested that figure could rise to €150m. There remains hope among the interested clubs that the final fee will be towards the lower number, but the presence of several big-hitters could trigger a bidding battle, while Bellingham's stock may surge higher given he is likely to form a key part of England's World Cup squad in Qatar.

Liverpool want to revitalise their midfield and opted against making a big-money move in the summer -- signing Arthur Melo on loan from Juventus instead -- choosing to wait for Bellingham. The Reds are willing to commit a huge sum to land him but any failure to qualify for next season's Champions League would place a significant strain on their finances.

Chelsea's new owners, led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, are determined to assemble a younger squad of next generation talent and view Bellingham as an ideal candidate to strengthen their midfield, especially with N'Golo Kante and Jorginho in the final year of their contracts.

United tried to sign Bellingham in 2020, but he chose to leave Birmingham City for Dortmund instead. Bellingham has thrived in Germany, taking his game to new heights this season, registering nine goals and two assists in 19 games this season. He became the Bundesliga's youngest ever captain when leading Dortmund at Cologne in September.