Klopp calls for Bellingham to be protected after ´absolutely exceptional´ World Cup campaign

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Jude Bellingham will not come under too much pressure following his “absolutely exceptional” showing for England at the World Cup.

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been strongly linked with a move to a number of Europe’s elite clubs – Liverpool among them – on the back of another impressive year.

Bellingham started all five of England’s matches at Qatar 2022, which ended in quarter-final defeat to France, scoring and assisting one goal from central midfield.

He was reportedly valued in excess of €100million (£88.5m) by Dortmund prior to the World Cup, a valuation that is likely to have only risen since.

However, Klopp says that no matter how expensive the 19-year-old is, he should not be weighed down by growing expectations in his home country.

“I don’t like to talk always about money,” Klopp told reporters. “When you talk about a player like Jude, I think everybody agrees he’s just exceptional for the age group.

“Imagine somebody has no clue about football or whatever or knows about football but didn’t watch it for a while and has no clue on Jude Bellingham…

“‘How old do you think he is?’ I think nobody would get it. Or even get close to his age. It’s like 28, 29, whatever, these kind of things, because he plays that maturely.

“He played an exceptional World Cup, absolutely exceptional. And he’s so good in so many things and has to improve and other things.

“But to describe him I’d say the things he can do already are difficult to learn. The things he has to improve are easy to learn and to improve so that makes a really good player.

“What can I say? I don’t say anything new. I thought that already, since two or three years ago, since he had his breakthrough at Dortmund, everybody knows that already.

“But I have no idea what that means for the money side of it. I really think if we all if want to do him a favour, then we just don’t talk too much about money.

“And I mean, from an English point of view, don’t throw any hurdles in his development. That would be really cool, wherever he will end up.”

Bellingham (19 years, 145 days) is the third-youngest player to start for England at a World Cup after Michael Owen in 1998 (18y, 198d) and Luke Shaw in 2014 (18y, 347d).

The Birmingham City academy product became the second-youngest player to score for England in the competition behind only Owen with his goal against Iran.

The teenage midfielder will remain in high demand ahead of the January transfer window, which Liverpool will target as a chance to strengthen their squad.

Liverpool are sixth in the Premier League and face a challenge to qualify for the Champions League, which Klopp accepts that could impact what players his side try to sign.

“It’s very important, very important,” he said of finishing in the top four. “That’s obviously our main target. I’m surprised that you don’t ask me today ‘can you be champions?’

“I think we have a good chance to qualify for the Champions League. If it will happen this year, I don’t know. But we’re 100 per cent one of the contenders for the next few years.

“If you ask a player and he’s like, ‘yeah, but next year you’re not sure if you’re in the Champions League; I’d prefer to go to a club who play in it now, but maybe not next year’.

“I’m not sure I would want this player still to be honest. So it’s like I understand it 100 per cent. I want to be part of the Champions League, to be honest, all the time.

“For now, we have pathways still to qualify for the Champions League next year. As long as that’s the case, I see ourselves as a proper contender for qualification.”

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