Ferdinand laughs off Bellingham to Arsenal rumours as Lescott tips Gunners to join transfer race

Arsenal will be able to attract a “whole different” calibre of player if they finish the season in the top four, according to Joleon Lescott.

The former Manchester City and Everton defender believes securing Champions League football could prove pivotal when targeting top players.

The 40-year-old mentioned Jude Bellingham as one potential name who could be targeted by Arsenal.

Bellingham has been linked with Liverpool and Real Madrid after enjoying another strong start with Borussia Dortmund.

The England international is just 19-year-old, yet he has already captained his current club.

As well as becoming a key figure in Edin Terzic’s side, Bellingham is also expected to feature prominently in England’s upcoming World Cup campaign.

The midfielder has produced two assists and scored one goal since returning from September’s international break.

Bellingham also played the full 90 minutes in last weekend’s Der Klassiker as the Yellow and Blacks secured a dramatic late 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich.

Many are now tipping the player to follow in the footsteps of former teammates Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, who both moved to the Premier League.

A recent report by Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo revealed the player would prefer a return to England over Real Madrid.

With Liverpool desperate to rebuild their midfield, the Reds are expected to spring into action ahead of next summer’s transfer window.

However, the one determining factor could be Champions League football.

Jurgen Klopp’s side currently sit tenth in the Premier League standings following an inconsistent start to the season.

The team have won just two of their opening eight games and even find themselves behind Bournemouth – a side they smashed 9-0 earlier in the campaign.

With that in mind, Lescott believes Arsenal could pip Liverpool to the signing of Bellingham.

The Gunners are currently top of the table having won eight of their opening nine games.

Speaking on BT Sport, Lescott said: “If Arsenal manage to get top four, which I think they do, then they attract a whole different calibre of player.

“I can see people like Jude Bellingham deciding over them, if you are looking at Liverpool who potentially may or may not make top four, and Arsenal you’re thinking ‘They’ve got Champions League’

“Now all of a sudden you are attracting a different calibre of player, which propels you again, which we have seen now with Manchester United they are able to attract.”

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand laughed off Lescott’s suggestion.

The 43-year-old is not convinced the Gunners could pull off the transfer coup, saying: “Jude Bellingham isn’t going to Arsenal bruv!”

Lescott hit back, adding: “I am not saying he is, but his decision is going to be based on Champions League, in terms of the stature of the club it’s going to have to be relevant and match his ambitions.”

READ MORE: Petit reveals the ‘dream’ signing Arsenal need to win the Premier League title

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