As Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, one Reds youngster, a ‘close friend’ of the England international, has explained why he is the “complete” midfielder.
Bellingham is widely expected to be Liverpool’s top transfer target next year, as the Reds look to inject some youth into their midfield.
Having played with Bellingham at England youth level, Liverpool academy prospect James Balagizi knows all about the talents of a player who looks set to spark a transfer tug of war between Europe’s top clubs next year.
Speaking to the Echo‘s Keifer MacDonald, Balagizi, who is impressing on loan with Crawley Town this season, has explained how he is taking inspiration from Bellingham.
“He’s so complete, it’s just crazy,” he said.
“He inspires others to go out and maximise our potential and he’s doing that on the biggest stage right now. He’s so inspiring to me because that’s where I want to be in the future as well.
“It just makes you think it’s possible, it’s possible to achieve what you dreamed of as a kid. There are people that I know doing it, so why shouldn’t I be there doing it?
“If I can keep my head down and keep working hard every single day, hopefully, one day I’ll get my opportunity and go from there.”
18-year-old Balagizi, who joined Liverpool’s academy ranks at the age of six, has three goals in 10 appearances from midfield for Crawley this season, including a goal to help the League Two side knock Fulham out of the League Cup last month.
After flourishing with Liverpool’s under-23 side last season, he has so far adapted well to senior football under the guidance of manager Kevin Betsy, who he knows well from the England youth set up.
Balagizi has aspirations to eventually break into the first team set up at Anfield, naming three players who wowed him while training with Jurgen Klopp‘s side in the past.
“I used to watch clips of Thiago,” he continued.
“I used to watch him when he was at Bayern Munich but now to think I can see what he’s doing in real life, I can’t put it into words how good it is to learn up close.
“Virgil van Dijk is so hard to get past, his passing range is just ridiculous,” he adds. “Like his passes, how is he able to get them on the money every time?!
Balagizi and Bellingham in the same midfield for Liverpool in the years to come? That’s his dream.