Liverpool should prioritise signing a ball-winning midfielder like Kalvin Phillips over the likes of Jude Bellingham.
That’s the view of TalkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino. Speaking on the radio station this morning, Cascarino – who’s a Liverpool fan – claimed that Bellingham doesn’t suit the profile of player Liverpool need right now.
“I love Jude Bellingham, I think he’s a fantastic player. Do I think he’s necessarily for Liverpool at the moment? No. I think they need way more of an engine room that is so similar to what they had a couple of years ago. That is, winning that ball back,” said the pundit.
“They need two midfielders who can get that ball back as quick as they can, because I think that would make a massive difference to Liverpool.
“I think there’s more important type of players before they bring in that luxury [Bellingham]. They’ve got Thiago who’s a fabulous footballer, but he’s not a good defender, he doesn’t do the things that are necessary to enable Liverpool to get the ball back quickly. So I think that’s paramount for Liverpool. The most important thing is to have two players – a bit like the Jordan Henderson type – who can play and obviously pass and do things, but first and foremost I need ball-winners in there.
“I like Kalvin Phillips at Man City, he’s not been used and OK, Rodri’s performances have been extraordinary. But I think he’s a fabulous ball-winner. I saw him enough at Leeds to see what ability he’s got at winning the ball back.”
Liverpool looking for players to fit the mould
First and foremost, Cascarino isn’t necessarily wrong with the basis of what he’s saying here. Ball-winning midfielders are exactly what Liverpool have been missing this season.
Too often it’s been too easy to play through the Reds midfield. They no longer have enough – or any – players who can get a foot in.
As they search for the right players to fix that this summer, an ability to win the ball back has to be high up on the list of desirable attributes.
But where Cascarino falters is that Bellingham can very much be that player. Although not a traditional ball-winner like Phillips, he’d be absolutely be suited to what the Reds need. They wouldn’t require him to play as a six in the mould of Fabinho, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a ball-winner.
Certainly, if there was a choice between Bellingham and Phillips, and Liverpool chose Phillips, there would be hell to pay among the fan base. There’s an argument that the 19-year-old can actually do everything that his England teammate can, and far more besides.
In the end, it looks now as though Liverpool will sign neither this summer, so it’s a moot point. But as they widen their search in the transfer market, we think they’d be better off using Bellingham as the mould to work from.