As Jürgen Klopp pursues his greatest victory, Liverpool is developing its own Jude Bellingham

Even without having to make a different transfer, Jürgen Klopp has started to fill the gap left by Liverpool’s withdrawal from a deal for Jude Bellingham.

Liverpool will undoubtedly bolster its midfield in the coming summer. And not a moment too soon—indeed, several moments too late, given that Jürgen Klopp is undoubtedly having trouble this year due to the lack of options in the center of the park.

There was a long-held belief that Jude Bellinhgam would provide the perfect answer. True all-arounder, he was likely Liverpool’s best option for a quick fix, but due to his astronomical price, competition from other teams, and the need to make more comprehensive investments, FSG has abandoned that idea.

There will undoubtedly be an emphasis on recruitment to try to duplicate the impact Bellingham could have had, if not in the form of a single player, then at the very least collectively, with a few savvy purchases possibly capable of producing better overall value for money. However, given the caliber of its former top target, it is a difficult request for Liverpool.

It seems impossible, but Klopp is somehow in the process of replicating Bellingham’s impact from within the existing ranks if Liverpool cannot even necessarily handpick a passable alternative in the transfer market.

Even more incredible, his solution did not even originate from midfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold has been a central presence on the ball for Liverpool since the switch was made against Arsenal, but Klopp has finally given in to pressure to make him more of one. As a result, a monster has been unleashed, one whose statistics compare surprisingly favorably to Bellingham’s.

There are some striking parallels between Alexander-Arnold’s statistics from the previous seven games and Bellingham’s statistics from the previous year (all data from FBref). Even though Klopp hasn’t produced a player with the same exact characteristics, he is undoubtedly making progress toward developing one with a comparable impact.

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For example, interceptions and defense have become practically synonymous. Alexander-Arnold is scoring 1 point 29 per 90 minutes, compared to Bellingham’s 1 point 3, for instance. Interestingly, the Borussia Dortmund player leads the league in tackles with 2.47 per game, but the Liverpool star who has been given a fresh start has 1.86, which places him in a similar area.

Alexander-Arnold clearly has the upper hand when it comes to creativity. He has been an even bigger hub for Liverpool than Bellingham was for Dortmund: 104 touches for every 90, as opposed to just 70, and 77 passes that were successfully completed, as opposed to 45. The biggest difference is found in the assists category, where the former right-back has recorded a improbable 0.86 per 90 minutes, compared to the Bundesliga sensation’s 0.16.

It is clear that sample size is important in this situation. Over the course of an entire season, Alexander-Arnold could not be counted on to maintain his performance levels. His expected assist total is a slightly more modest 0.53 per 90 thanks to his teammates’ effective play. However, even with his best seven-game league run this season, the Dortmund star has only managed three assists, averaging an only slightly higher expected tally of 0.19 per game. This is still significantly higher than Bellingham’s 0.13.

Bellingham outperforms Klopp’s most promising midfield talent in the majority of other categories. His pass completion rate of 81.4% is slightly higher than Alexander-Arnold’s pass completion rate of 79.5%. Additionally, he is more progressive than the Liverpool player, who averages just one progressive carry per game compared to him. His 8.1 progressive passes also outperform his Anfield counterpart’s 7.3 total.

As Jürgen Klopp pursues his greatest victory, Liverpool is developing its

Trent Alexander-Arnold has had an impact similar to Jude Bellingham’s since settling into the Liverpool midfield.

Most importantly, Bellingham has a significant advantage in terms of being a goal-scoring midfielder. Despite a few successful long-range shots, Alexander-Arnold has only managed to achieve 0 point 04 expected goals per 90 since his transfer. Compared to his England colleague, who has scored 13 goals across all competitions this season with a point total of 0 points per 90, this is a significant decline.

But there isn’t much of an advantage to be had here. With the number of opportunities he gives others, Alexander-Arnold more than makes up for the goal deficit. It’s reasonable to say that he has been having a season similar to Bellingham’s, at least for the last seven games, even though it has been over a shorter time and he is not the same type of player.

The Liverpool player obviously still has a lot to prove. If only for the sample size behind him, Bellingham clearly still has an advantage. Can he replicate or even improve on this kind of impact as a “true” midfielder, if indeed that’s something Klopp even wants to explore? More importantly, can he sustain a similar level over the course of an entire season?

However, Klopp’s greatest achievement thus far may have been to even come close to Bellingham using only the tools at his disposal. If it keeps Liverpool in the Champions League, that would be very impressive. But the more important point is the long-term legacy it might leave. The manager appears to be gradually developing a truly generational midfielder, one whose influence at Anfield might be felt long after the German decides to hang up his boots.

Igbo Kennedy

Igbo Kennedy

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