Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is among the names on everybody’s lips when contemplating who the most effective younger participant in world soccer is. (He came 4th on ESPN’s 39 U21 list from April.)
Nonetheless solely 19, Bellingham has made his mark within the German Bundesliga over the previous two years since he made a €30 million switch from Birmingham Metropolis in 2020. Now, Dortmund worth his providers at over €120m, however and not using a launch clause in his contract (in contrast to Erling Haaland, who moved to Manchester Metropolis for €60m from Dortmund this summer time), the sky is the restrict for Bellingham.
A number of the prime golf equipment in Europe have been scouting the England worldwide, so which one wants him most? And which fits his fashion of play?
Liverpool are crying out for a midfielder of Bellingham’s technical and bodily attributes. As supervisor Jurgen Klopp prepares the membership for his or her subsequent section of improvement, the entire midfield may very well be set for a revamp over the following few switch home windows. As a result of accidents or opposed type, Klopp has needed to tinker in midfield with out seemingly discovering the precise combos.
Not solely have accidents prevented Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from getting a constant run within the crew, however the subsequent technology of 21-year-old Curtis Jones and 19-year-old Harvey Elliott are but to persuade that their long-term future is within the centre of midfield. Then there’s the problem of how lengthy veterans James Milner (36) and Jordan Henderson (32) can proceed to deal with the depth and dynamism required to get by means of 40-50 video games a season. The one positive factor actually is that Fabinho (28) will present the anchor.
With all of the uncertainty surrounding Liverpool’s present midfield, Bellingham’s athleticism (he infrequently misses a sport) and flexibility can be excellent for Klopp, whereas he may doubtlessly assume the playmaking duties of one other injury-prone midfielder: Thiago Alcantara. However one query stays: how nice an urge for food would Bellingham have for becoming a member of a facet that could be a work in progress? He can be a central a part of any crew he joins, however at Anfield he may find yourself being shuffled round as an alternative of slotting right into a extra settled position.
The Manchester City midfield might appear to be a clean and well-oiled machine, however there are nonetheless a number of explanation why there’s reported enthusiastic about Bellingham from the blue facet of Manchester. Whereas the holding midfield position is effectively coated by Rodri and Kalvin Phillips, Guardiola’s tendency to depart room for roaming, interchanging of positions and creativity among the many extra superior central attacking midfielders would swimsuit Bellingham effectively. Certainly, the ex-Birmingham star’s versatility — his previous ventures embody as a large midfielder and No. 10 — would probably have Pep Guardiola rubbing his arms in anticipation.
As well as, the long-term way forward for Bernardo Silva — with reported curiosity from each Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain — may effectively turn out to be a subject in the summertime once more, whereas Ilkay Gundogan‘s present deal is ready to run out in 2023. For a membership that likes to plan forward — absolutely within the data that box-to-box midfielders of Bellingham’s high quality, age and adaptability are uncommon — one would count on Metropolis to be on prime of developments.
With the 19-year-old already constructing a great understanding with Phil Foden within the England facet, and seeing how simply his former Dortmund teammate Erling Haaland has settled in on the Etihad, he will not be wanting voices speaking up a transfer to the Etihad ought to Metropolis determine to pursue their curiosity.
In a crew usually missing dynamism and fluid runners in midfield, Bellingham would provide supervisor Erik ten Hag an array of choices at Outdated Trafford. With United having missed out on signing Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong in the summertime, Bellingham would provide among the identical attributes and presumably extra.
Whereas De Jong is arguably the extra strategical midfielder of the pair, Bellingham additionally likes to select up the ball from deep and is enhancing his passing vary. Nonetheless, it is the latter’s capacity to attach defence and assault together with his pressure-resisting dribbles and ball-carries which may see him turn out to be the lacking hyperlink at Outdated Trafford. He would additionally add a penetrative risk that the Manchester United midfield presently sorely misses.
United have two gamers who may carry out comparable duties — Fred and Donny van de Beek — however each are but to have the anticipated impression, so the potential seize of Bellingham may develop into one of many membership’s most important signings over the previous decade.
Regardless of already having a plethora of choices in central midfield, the LaLiga and European champions are nonetheless reported to have an curiosity in Bellingham. As confirmed by their spending huge sums to draw world-class expertise equivalent to Eduardo Camavinga (€31m) and Aurelien Tchouameni (€80m), the Spanish giants are an ever-present at any time when there’s a possibility to safe the highest younger gamers round. The temptation of including one other one in Bellingham may nonetheless be inside their technical necessities and monetary means, assuming they do not make one other play to land PSG striker Kylian Mbappe.
With Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Camavinga and Tchouameni all battling for locations, it was extensively mentioned how Real Madrid may match all their stars right into a well-functioning midfield earlier than the €70m switch of Casemiro to Manchester United freed up some area.
So it isn’t exhausting to envisage Bellingham discovering a pure place within the Bernabeu midfield in a 12 months’s time. The contracts of Modric (37) and Kroos (32) expire then, however the Englishman may theoretically substitute them each, making him a serious attraction. Two such high-profile departures would go away Valverde (24) as Carlos Ancelotti’s most skilled common in central midfield, however the sheer high quality and compatibility of the possible quartet would nonetheless make Madrid favourites to repeat their home and European glory.
Craig Burley debates how Graham Potter will deal with Chelsea’s senior gamers.
Chelsea actually have the cash to battle for Bellingham’s signature however their curiosity might hinge on how Carney Chukwuemeka develops over the course of this season. With a skillset not too far faraway from Bellingham — amongst a number of similarities are their first-class ball-progression, glorious dribbling expertise in crowded areas, and skill to make a big effect in transition — Chukwuemeka might make spending massive within the midfield space superfluous after his £15m transfer from Aston Villa this summer time. Although he has but to make his senior debut for the membership, he is probably not far off.
Nonetheless, whereas Chelsea will not be wanting numbers in central midfield, the crew nonetheless lack one defining participant who can present line-breaking runs and add creativity within the closing third. As a lot as Bellingham and new coach Graham Potter do seem a suitable match — his avid urgent sport can be particularly appreciated — Chelsea may discover it robust to influence the 19-year-old to hitch them contemplating the opposite choices on the desk.
In fact there may be at all times the choice to remain at Dortmund. Bellingham is aware of the crew and suits the fashion effectively, having put in 13 targets and 18 assists from his 100 video games so far.
The midfielder’s contract does not expire till 2025, so the ball could be very a lot in Dortmund’s court docket for the following 12 months or so, however the Bundesliga facet will likely be eager to increase it — presumably with the inclusion of a big launch clause to the tune of €150m or so.
Bellingham remains to be simply 19, so he may have loads of time to contemplate the place his long-term future lies.