Liverpool's Jude Bellingham alternatives: Mason Mount, Nicolo Barella and the midfielders the Reds should target after calling off pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star

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The Reds' hopes of landing their top target are over, so who else could they target to fix their biggest issue ahead of 2023-24?

If ever there was an update Liverpool fans didn't want, this was it. For months, the idea of Jude Bellingham arriving at Anfield this summer has provided some comfort for supporters amid the Reds' underwhelming, and at times infuriating, campaign.

Now, though, that comfort has been ripped away. GOAL confirmed on Tuesday that Liverpool are ready to move on from their Bellingham pursuit, deciding that they cannot afford the Borussia Dortmund star when they need a whole clutch of new players this summer to arrest this season's considerable drop in standards.

Jurgen Klopp has spoken publicly of the need for "a big summer", and with the likes of Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all out of contract at the end of the season, it is safe to assume that work is already underway to identify potential summer targets, even if the club's struggle to secure Champions League qualification provides an unwanted obstacle, and distraction, to their plans.

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Bellingham, of course, was the dream, but as Klopp pointed out recently, there are a lot of talented footballers available for a club like Liverpool. And according to sources familiar with the situation at Anfield, there is a long list of potential summer targets, whether they land a top-four finish or not.

With that in mind, GOAL takes a look at some players who could, or indeed should, find themselves on the Reds’ radar…

  1. Moises Caicedo
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    Moises Caicedo

    The Brighton midfielder is a player who is clearly destined for a Champions League club, and was pursued strongly by Premier League leaders Arsenal, as well as big-spending Chelsea, at the end of the January window.

    Brighton, though, stood firm despite the Ecuadorian stating publicly his desire to leave. Caicedo has since signed a new deal at the Amex Stadium, although many suspect that is more about protecting his value than any long-term desire to remain on the South Coast.

    Liverpool sources have previously played down the club's interest in the 21-year-old, but Caicedo's age and all-round skillset would make him a perfect fit for the Reds, even if he is likely to cost in excess of £80 million ($98m).

  2. Alexis Mac Allister
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    Alexis Mac Allister

    What about Caicedo’s team-mate at the Amex, then? Mac Allister, undoubtedly, is hot property after playing a key role in Argentina’s World Cup win, and like Caicedo has already been linked with a move to a bigger, more high-profile club.

    The 24-year-old's father, Carlos, reportedly attended Liverpool's Champions League game with Real Madrid at Anfield last month, and certainly Alexis' blend of attacking guile and defensive output mark him out as a player who could make a difference to Liverpool.

    Mind you, given the Reds lost 5-2 against Real that night, maybe the Mac Allister clan could have second thoughts on the idea of a move to Merseyside...

  3. Mason Mount
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    Mason Mount

    It is increasingly likely that the England international will leave Chelsea this summer, with Mount set to enter the final year of his contract and talks over a new deal having hit a roadblock.

    Liverpool, along with Manchester United and newly-ambitious Newcastle, are all keen, with the 24-year-old having already appointed a new agent, Neil Fewings, in preparation for a summer transfer.

    Mount, it should be said, has not had the best of times this season, but Liverpool are long-term admirers, and his hard-running, positionally-smart style of play could be very useful as Klopp rebuilds his midfield.

    Expect the Reds to be very much in the race for Mount this summer.

  4. Matheus Nunes

    Matheus Nunes

    Despite a mixed first season in the Premier League with Wolves, Nunes is a player who is very much admired by Liverpool.

    Indeed, stories earlier this year suggested that an agreement was already in place for the Reds to bid for the 24-year-old this summer, with Liverpool having opted not to pursue the player when he moved to Wolves from Sporting CP last August.

    Nunes, who has been in and out at Molineux so far, still has a lot to prove in England, but he is versatile and skilled, and at a cost of around £50m ($61m) would not break the bank either.

  5. Declan Rice

    Declan Rice

    Even if one England international in Bellingham is set to prove beyond Liverpool's reach, could they move for another?

    Rice, like Bellingham, has long been tipped for a move to a top-four club, although West Ham's struggles this season have surely cast at least some doubt on the 24-year-old's suitability at the elite level.

    Arsenal are reportedly most keen on signing Rice this summer, while Manchester United are long-term admirers. Liverpool like the player too, although whether they would spend anything like £100m ($122m) on a defensive midfielder is another matter entirely.

  6. Nicolo Barella

    Nicolo Barella

    A player who is hugely admired by Jurgen Klopp and Pep Lijnders - just read Lijnders' book, 'Intensity', if you want to know the Reds management's opinion on the Inter star - and who could be in line for a big-money move this summer, given Inter's financial uncertainty.

    At 26, the Italy international is of prime age, and a reported price tag of around £60m ($73m) should not prove prohibitive, even if Liverpool were to miss out on Champions League qualification.

    Then again, whether Barella would fancy the Europa League or Europa Conference League is another matter.

  7. Joao Palhinha
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    Joao Palhinha

    One of the unsung heroes of Fulham’s excellent Premier League campaign, Palhinha is a player well known to Liverpool’s scouting department, and one who represented a bargain when moving from Sporting CP for only £20m ($24m) last summer.

    At 27, he should be entering his prime years, though he is more of a defensive midfielder than a No.8, and Liverpool have generally tended to target younger players when making big-money signings in key areas.

  8. Teun Koopmeiners

    Teun Koopmeiners

    A player whom Liverpool are very much aware of, and have been linked with in recent months, much to the Dutchman's delight.

    Koopmeiners ticks a lot of boxes in terms of his age (24), his physical profile and the experience he has collected with AZ Alkmaar, Atalanta and the Netherlands national team.

    His versatility, in that he can play as a deep or more advanced midfielder, is also appealing, but he would not come cheap as he's a key player in Bergamo.

  9. Adrien Rabiot

    Adrien Rabiot

    Another player perennially linked with a move to the Premier League, and one who was among the best performers for France at the recent World Cup.

    Rabiot is also out of contract in the summer, though Juventus would like him to extend his stay in Turin.

    He would bring a wealth of top-level experience to any club, as well as his undoubted quality. His wage demands, however, would be significant, especially for a player who will be 28 by the time the summer arrives.

  10. Sofyan Amrabat
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    Sofyan Amrabat

    One of the breakout stars of the 2022 World Cup, the Moroccan was strongly linked with Liverpool immediately after the tournament, only for club sources to play down the Reds’ interest.

    The 26-year-old, who plays for Fiorentina in Serie A, is more of a specialist defensive midfielder than several others on this list, so would provide steel and energy, but his price will only have been inflated by his showings in Qatar and there is little sign at present that Liverpool have him high on their agenda.

  11. Manu Kone

    Manu Kone

    Another Bundesliga starlet, Kone plays his football with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach, and has been linked with a move to Newcastle, among others.

    At 21, the Frenchman looks to have a huge future ahead of him, and his all-round skillset could make him a more than interesting proposition for a club like Liverpool. With recent reports in Germany suggesting Kone could be available for less than £30m ($37m), he is certainly one to keep an eye on.

  12. Luka Sucic
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    Luka Sucic

    A name Liverpool have been aware of for some years, and one who looks destined to join the long list of players to have emerged successfully from Red Bull Salzburg.

    Sucic is still only 20, and the Croatian's all-round game should make him a more than appealing prospect to any top club.

    He's a creator and a goalscorer, rather than a destroyer, but Liverpool's relationship with the Red Bull group is well established, and this is a player of serious potential.

  13. Ryan Gravenberch
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    Ryan Gravenberch

    An interesting name who could become available this summer is Gravenberch, who has found life tough at Bayern Munich since moving from Ajax last year.

    The Dutch international was watched closely by Liverpool before his switch to Munich, and at 20 still has bags of potential to offer any top club.

    Whether Bayern are prepared to give up on him so soon remains to be seen. If they are, expect Liverpool to at least ask the question.

  14. Gavi
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    Could another of Europe’s best young midfield talents find himself on the market this summer?

    Gavi’s situation at Barcelona is a messy one, with the Catalans currently unable to register the 18-year-old as a senior player due to their ongoing financial issues.

    As it stands, he will become a free agent at the end of the season, leading a number of clubs - Liverpool included - to investigate the prospect of capitalising.

    Barca, though, still believe a solution will be found, allowing them to confirm the contract Gavi signed last September and register him as a first-team player. Expect a few more twists and turns on this one.

  15. Conor Gallagher
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    Conor Gallagher

    What chance of another Chelsea and England midfielder ending up at Liverpool, then?

    Gallagher has long been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge. He was wanted by Everton and Crystal Palace in January, while Newcastle are understood to be long-term admirers.

    And with the Londoners set to move on a host of first-team players in the summer as they make room for their raft of winter signings, the likelihood is that the 23-year-old will be one of the ones sacrificed.

    Certainly, Gallagher has energy, and enjoyed a fine season on loan at Palace in 2021-22, but serious doubts must remain as to whether he could be anything like a game-changer for a team with Liverpool’s needs.