Jude Bellingham is one of the hottest properties in world football and at this early stage in his career, he appears to have the potential to be one of England’s all-time greats. There have been so many players over the last 20 years or so, let alone the history of the game, who have seemed destined for greatness, only to fall a long way short. One of the most obvious examples of this is Dele Alli, who was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017. He was named in the Premier League Team of the Year in both those seasons too, whilst the respected CIES Football Observatory report named him the second most valuable player in the world in 2017.
Alli hasn’t played for England since 2019 and despite still only being 27 he seems unlikely to add to his 37 caps for the Three Lions. He was last seen being shunned by Besiktas in Turkey after Everton deemed him surplus to requirements when 13 games for them yielded not a single goal or assist.
Anyway, that’s far too much about Alli, who like Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell, Ross Barkley, David Bentley (dubbed the next David Beckham after a move to Spurs for £16.5m), Ravel Morrison and so many other young stars just couldn’t fulfil their early potential. Bellingham is far more like a Wayne Rooney or a Steven Gerrard than any of those players and at the age of just 19 (he will only turn 20 in June 2023) has already achieved far more than any of them, aside from Alli.
Bellingham is currently considered to be the third-most valuable player on the planet. Conservatively valued at €120m, only Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe are ahead of him. The Birmingham boy, who made his debut for the Blues aged just 16 (and 38 days to be exact), has 24 England caps at the time of writing and scored his first full international goal at the 2022 World Cup.
He was signed by Borussia Dortmund for a fee thought to be £25m, with considerable add-ons. This made him the most expensive 17-year-old in football history and already he has made that fee look like a steal. Second to Barcelona’s Pedri in the 2021 Kopa Trophy (awarded to the best under-21 player in the world and voted for solely by former winners of the Ballon d’Or), he seems set to move to one of the world’s biggest clubs sooner rather than later. Or does he? We will return to that shortly, but first, why all the fuss?
Bellingham: Wisdom Beyond His Years, Great Technique, Amazing Physically
With Bellingham having exclusively played outside the Premier League thus far, many UK fans have seen little of him aside from the odd clip and his performances for the Three Lions. However, those who have watched his career more closely and enjoy watching action from the Bundesliga know just how good he is.
Even at this tender age he looks to have a little bit of everything and another reason to think that he will fulfil his potential is his personality and temperament. He is incredibly mature, balanced and humble and looks every inch a future captain of England. Indeed, a sign of his maturity and calmness, yet also drive to win and succeed, came in an interview where he was refuting these very things!
Bellingham was quoted saying that
“People are always saying to me how mature I am and I don’t really see it, personally … at home, I’m like any normal kid … I want to mess around a little bit.”
He added that
“I’m still 19, I’ve won maybe one trophy in my career and it’s not enough, really. I want to win way more and I want to continue to push the boundaries of my own potential and talent.”
That should worry other players, because already Bellingham looks the complete midfielder. Tall, strong and powerful, he is built like a middleweight boxer and also boasts an excellent engine and a deceptive turn of pace. He reads the game very well and can play almost anywhere in midfield. Whilst his best position may be as a number eight, recently he has taken a more advanced role with Dortmund. He can play as a 10, whilst he is also a top-class defensive midfielder too. Such flexibility is just another string to his bow and another reason why several clubs will be prepared to pay over £100m to secure his services.
Where will Bellingham go Next?
For now Bellingham remains a Borussia Dortmund player, contracted until the end of June 2025. It was long thought he would move to Liverpool, as his father is believed to be a big fan of the club, whilst he has also been pictured with Jordan Henderson. However, the Reds ruled themselves out of a move, certainly in summer 2023, with cost the major issue.
Man City or Real Madrid are the other names most associated with the Stourbridge-born player, although Man United and Chelsea cannot be ruled out. It was assumed that the star would make a big-money move in summer 2023 but after scoring a brace against Wolfsburg on 7th May, he appeared to cast doubt on that.
With rumours swirling that a deal to Real was nearing, Bellingham appeared to celebrate his second goal by running to the fans and shouting “F**k the talk, I’m staying”. His gestures supported that, and so now some believe he may stay in Germany for at least another season.
Jude Bellingham on the weekend during a celebration:
“Fuck the talk, I’m staying.”
— Liverpool Photos (@LiverpoolPhotox) May 9, 2023
His career thus far has been carefully plotted and designed to allow him to flourish and develop. It certainly seems plausible that another season with Dortmund could be part of the grand masterplan. Time will tell. But one thing is for sure, wherever Bellingham decides to go, the club will be improved by his addition.