Birmingham City’s in-demand midfielder Jude Bellingham continues to be at the centre of a major transfer tug-of-war between some of Europe’s biggest clubs, though the teenager is taking his time before deciding his next move.
The 16-year-old wonderkid, who has been a feature in England’s underage set-up since 2017, exploded onto the scene with Birmingham City in the Championship this season, wowing supporters with his classy, cultured style of play in his first year as a first-teamer at the club.
In his break-out campaign at St. Andrew’s, Bellingham has been involved in 32 of City’s 37 league matches, notching four goals and two assists in 25 Championship starts and seven substitute appearances in total.
With Bellingham’s reputation erupting at a rate of knots in the first half of the season, some of the continent’s more predatory bigger fish started to circle, and Birmingham reportedly rebuffed sizeable offers from both Manchester United and Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund for their prized asset in the January transfer window.
However, Birmingham are already preparing to field even larger offers for their home-grown star from the same clubs this summer, and Premier League side Chelsea among others have also joined the race to sign the highly-coveted up and comer.
Jude Bellingham is listed among our FM20 wonderkid midfield gems of the future. Find out who joins him in our guide here!
Reports suggest that a clutch of Europe’s clubs have identified Bellingham as a “generational talent” – something backed up by the enormous possible transfer fees being bandied about for the midfielder, who doesn’t turn 17 until July.
What stands £50m-rated Bellingham apart for Birmingham is his ability to affect the game in both defensive and attacking transitions.
While many modern midfielders tend to specialise in one or the other, Bellingham’s well-rounded skillset allows him to be influential in both phases of play.
The youngster has averaged a healthy 2.3 tackles per 90 minutes for the Blues in the Championship this season, highlighting his effectiveness out of possession, while his 1.2 shots and 1.1 dribbles per game averages point to a potent threat when on the ball.
Bellingham’s ability to mix it with players a decade older than him in the notoriously physical Championship also shows a hardened mental fortitude for someone so young, and it’s easy to see why the aforementioned combination of attributes is so attractive to prospective buyers.
Who’s in the race for Bellingham?
Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund are rumoured to be closest to signing Bellingham, and the England Under-17 international has plenty of incentives to move to Germany.
Dortmund have developed a reputation for being prolific talent developers in recent years, taking on raw talented players and selling them on as more polished performers for enormous transfer fees after a few years of schooling.
The German club could also offer Bellingham are clear route to first team football and the chance to rub shoulders with some incredibly gifted young players like Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland.
Dortmund wouldn’t stand in Bellingham’s way should the midfielder choose to move on again down the line too, and the 16-year-old could see Signal Iduna Park as the perfect stopover on his way to the top.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has always maintained that he wants to build his United team around a framework of young, hungry, exciting players – and Bellingham certainly falls into that multi-faceted category.
Bellingham was shown around United’s training base at Carrington, with Birmingham’s permission, earlier this year, and the club rolled out meet and greets with Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona in a bid to woo the teenager.
While Bellingham’s path to the first team might not be as clear, United have shown over the past year that they are one of the few Premier League clubs that genuinely give youth a chance in the first team.
Scott McTominay, Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dan James have all been bought, blooded or developed by Solskjaer this season, and with United’s future starting to look a little brighter, Bellingham might be tempted to join their youthful revolution.
Like his counterpart at Man Utd, Frank Lampard has been attempting to reduce the average age of his Chelsea team, choosing to build the Blues future around energetic inexperience.
If Bellingham did decide to swap Birmingham for London, he would join a lengthy list of fresh-faced English players including Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James, and the idea of developing alongside them could excite the Birmingham starlet.
However, the senior competition for a place in Chelsea’s midfield is tough with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic as well as the emerging Scott Billy Gilmour all vying for places, and Bellingham might feel that his position already looks a little crowded at Stamford Bridge.
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