Have United already dropped the ball over Jude Bellingham?

Manchester United face Chelsea on Monday in a match which will go a long way to deciding whether the Reds will be in next season’s Champions League.

Whether United’s are dining at Europe’s top table next season will have a huge bearing on their transfer targets for the summer.

Jadon Sancho is one player who has been linked with both clubs – by the Daily Mail – lately and is very unlikely to join a club who aren’t in the Champions League.

Another player who has now been linked with both clubs is Jude Bellingham, and United may live to regret letting their interest drag on.

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What’s the latest?

According to the Sun, Chelsea have now joined United in the hunt for the Birmingham City teenage sensation.

They report that the price tag for the 16-year-old is now nearing an astronomical £50 million, with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona also lurking with interest.

Apparently, the bidding war will not impact either club’s ability to bid for Sancho as well.

But if one of the clubs is in the Champions League and the other isn’t, that could have a massive sway in Bellingham’s thinking.

That’s why Monday’s clash could well have repercussions beyond three points on the pitch.

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Liverpool also lurking

United could very much regret allowing their pursuit of Bellingham to drag on because 90 Min reported last month that Liverpool are also keen on the teen.

The Reds are beginning to put a focus back on their young players, with their success in the FA Cup being largely down to emerging stars – wishing to emulate Trent Alexander-Arnold impressing when given the chance.

Jurgen Klopp’s side may well be a more attractive destination come the summer; they are the reigning European champions and look set to win the Premier League.

As the race hots up, perhaps United will live to regret not tying Bellingham down already.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.