ᑕ❶ᑐ Jude Bellingham: Borussia Dortmund midfielder in the lead


Jude Bellingham: Borussia Dortmund midfielder in the lead
Jude Bellingham scored 13 goals in 100 games for Borussia Dortmund

Jude Bellingham has had his shirt number retired, made a Bundesliga Team of the Season, scored in the Champions League, become an England regular and has been called a ‘generational talent’. Not bad for a teenager.

« There is no doubt that in two or three years we will be talking about one of the five best players in the world, » says European football journalist Guillem Balague.

On Monday, 19-year-old Bellingham is set to earn his 17th England cap when he takes on Germany, the country where he rose from promising youngster to elite midfielder.

Since Bellingham joined Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham City in 2020 for a fee that could exceed €30million, no teenager has played more in Europe’s top five leagues – and he’s near the top of the charts for defensive actions and offensives.

Bellingham’s Birmingham debut

Jude Bellingham: Borussia Dortmund midfielder in the lead
Jude Bellingham’s transfer to Borussia Dortmund has been confirmed ahead of his final game for Birmingham in July 2020

Bellingham spent just one season with his hometown club Birmingham City’s first team in the Championship.

He became the youngest player in their history at 16 years and 38 days – and played 41 of their 46 league games as a 16-year-old for most of the campaign.

He visited some big clubs with his parents, including Manchester United, because it was clear he was too good for the English second tier.

That said, people laughed when The Blues retired their number 22 shirt after he left for Dortmund – but they clearly knew how good he was.

“He adapted very well to Germany but it was not his decision to leave,” Balague said in a recent BBC Euro Leagues Podcast. « He didn’t want to leave Birmingham City, » he cried.

“Pep Clotet, who was manager at Birmingham, sent me a message saying that this 16-year-old player who has just made his debut is going to be one of the best players in the world. The rest is history. »

Bellingham takes himself by surprise

Bellingham practically walked straight into the Dortmund squad when he joined in 2020 – and has never left.

He scored on his Bundesliga debut for Duisburg and made 29 of their 34 league appearances – and 46 in total – in a season that ended with him with England at Euro 2020 .

He played 68 times in Dortmund’s league, a joint record for a teenager in Europe’s top five leagues at that time – sharing that total with Eduardo Camavinga for Rennes and Real Madrid.

However, for minutes played, it’s not even close. Bellingham has played 5,124 minutes – more than 1,000 more than anyone else under 20.

Ahead of Dortmund’s Champions League tie with Manchester City this season, a match in which Bellingham scored, he said, “I think it was all a bit of a surprise. I didn’t think I would have as much impact as I did.

“I thought I should wait longer. The coaches threw me into the thick of it and gave me the chance to learn. I had qualities that I didn’t know I had, it all depends on them.

“I feel like a lot of aspects of my game have improved – defensively, offensively, as a leader off the pitch too. »

He is already Dortmund’s « third captain » behind club legends Marco Reus and Mats Hummels.

German football journalist Raphael Honigstein told the BBC: “He is so dominant for Dortmund. They are super dependent on him. It’s a unique position to not have to worry about his starting spot at 19. He found that sweet spot.

« Bellingham has shown up before in a Dortmund team that hasn’t been so impressive.

“He always made a point of sitting next to the people he would learn the most from in the dressing room, rather than sitting next to other young people.

“You will see many children with similar talent, but only players with a duty of care and professionalism like that will be able to do what Jude Bellingham does. »

Bellingham impressed at both ends of the field. He has made more interceptions (78) and won the ball more times (363) than any other teenager in Europe’s top five leagues.

For tackles, only Real Madrid’s French midfielder Camavinga is above him.

It also ranks very well in the future. His tally of 11 assists is second only to Germany and Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz. For cumulative goals and assists (15), only four teenagers are ahead of him.

For the chances created (58), only Wirtz, Lorient’s Adil Aouchiche – who also played for PSG and Saint-Etienne – and Barcelona’s Pedri are superior.

Bellingham has already played 144 games for club and 16 for his country – at an age when many have not made their professional debut – and he will not turn 20 before the end of this season.

Balague said: “He is everywhere for Dortmund. He’s powerful, he’s fast, his technique is wonderful. He feels like the complete midfielder. »

What’s next for Bellingham?

Jude Bellingham: Borussia Dortmund midfielder in the lead
2021 – Jadon Sancho to Manchester United; 2022 – Erling Haaland to Manchester City; 2023 – Jude Bellingham at ?

Dortmund is like a conveyor belt for young talent, who inevitably leave a team that has won just two German Cups in the past decade.

In 2017, Ousmane Dembele went to Barcelona. In 2019, Christian Pulisic joined Chelsea. Last year Jadon Sancho joined Manchester United – and this summer Erling Haaland went to Manchester City.

Despite a contract with Dortmund until 2025, it’s hard to see Bellingham staying beyond this season with most of Europe’s top flight interested.

“He will be the Haaland of next summer,” Honigstein said. “Dortmund hope to be able to stay a little longer. Just a few months ago he said he had no intention of leaving and was happy at Dortmund.

“But his progress has been so fast that Dortmund can no longer hide how good he is, especially if he starts playing like that at the World Cup.

« Clubs will start to line up because anyone who misses him will feel like they’re missing out on a generational talent in English football.

“I think he can play in any system in any team. The system changes with him. In a few years, the system will evolve in his presence.

« He’s like the classic English box-to-box general. Maybe Liverpool are the closest to playing like this.

“Before going to Dortmund, he had big offers from Manchester United. Everyone will be clamoring for his signature, including Chelsea with the new owners.

“He also likes the physical challenge. I have no concerns about his integration into the Premier League. »

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Jude Bellingham: Borussia Dortmund midfielder in the lead

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Jude Bellingham: Borussia Dortmund midfielder in the lead


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