Mats Hummels has witnessed first-hand the likes of Mario Götze and Christian Pulisic break onto the pro scene at Borussia Dortmund down the years, but believes Jude Bellingham is on another level altogether.
Bellingham has started every single game in the Dortmund engine room so far this season, taking his appearance count to 54 in all competitions for the club he joined from boyhood outfit Birmingham City in summer 2020.
Hummels, a six-time Bundesliga winner and veteran of over 360 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund and record champions Bayern Munich, has been bowled over by the teenaged midfielder's impact on the BVB first team.
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"But Jude is the most mature 18-year-old player I've ever seen. He's already a leader and also one of the most vocal in the team.
"He's a fantastic footballer, and a fantastic guy. I think I've told him about 25 times now that I just love him. He's on his way to the very top, there's no doubt about that."
No doubt whatsoever. Bellingham has won eight senior England caps in his short time at Dortmund, and recently became the youngest Englishman to score away from home in the UEFA Champions League, with his strike against Besiktas.
The box-to-box supremo has now had a direct hand in six competitive goals in 2020/21, compared to eight across the entire previous campaign in which he turned out some 46 times.
He also ranks as Dortmund's best for challenges won (62) after five rounds of Bundesliga fixtures, and sits in the club's top five for successful passes from open play (87.8 percent).
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