Liverpool started negotiations with 25-year-old La Liga midfielder

The Merseyside giants have set their sights on Real Sociedad footballer Mikel Merino as an alternative for main transfer target Jude Bellingham for the summer of next year.

The Reds are keen on bolstering their midfield unit in the summer of 2022, having failed to do so this year, despite the departure of mainstay Gini Wijnaldum, who left Liverpool on a free transfer to sign for PSG.

Harvey Elliott has been entrusted with a role in midfield by the German coach of late, but the attacker suffered a horrific injury in the victory over Leeds United. With Thiago, Jordan Henderson, and James Milner not getting any younger, Jurgen Klopp and the Reds would be benefitted by looking to renew their options in midfield.

England international, to that end, has emerged as the top transfer target for Liverpool, with the Reds even set to make a club-record bid for the English midfielder.

However, signing Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund will be anything but easy given that the BVB have no intention of selling the midfielder, while there is interest from the likes of Man City as well.

The Reds, as a result, look to be keeping their options open, with Spain international now emerging as an alternative should a move for Jude not pan out. Mikel came through the ranks at Osasuna before making the switch to Signal Iduna Park at a very young age, where Merino rose to prominence as a talented young midfielder.