Borussia Dortmund have struck again, beating competition from around Europe to sign one of the hottest young prospects in football. Jude Bellingham will move to Germany in the summer, following in the footsteps of other top teenage talents like Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna, and Jadon Sancho.
bundesliga.com has the lowdown on a player who is willing to let Dortmund into his heart so he can start to make them (even) better…
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: England (3 U17 caps, 2 goals)
A Birmingham City fan who joined the club at the age of seven, Bellingham has enjoyed a meteoric rise. He made his senior debut in an English League Cup game against Portsmouth in August 2019, becoming the youngest player ever to feature for the Blues. Aged just 16 years and 38 days, he broke a record set by Trevor Francis 49 years previously. Bellingham then become Birmingham's youngest ever goalscorer at the end of that month – taking another record held by club legend Francis – coming off the bench to net the winner against Stoke City on his home debut. The teenager soon proved his first goal was no fluke by starting and scoring in a win at Charlton Athletic two weeks later.
By the start of March 2020, Bellingham had played 31 league matches in England’s tough-as-nails second-tier Championship, starting 24 games, scoring four goals, and registering two assists. He won the English Football League's Young Player of the Month award for November as a result of his performances, and has now become the latest in a long line of teenage stars who see Dortmund as the perfect place to develop.
Plays a bit like: Steven Gerrard
Don't take our word for it – those are the thoughts of former Birmingham City and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant as well. "He reminds me of a young Steven Gerrard," Pennant told Talksport when discussing Bellingham earlier this year.
"He throws himself about, he can get up and down the pitch, he can score goals and assist goals, he's got trickery. He's a fantastic young player."
An athletic, box-to-box midfielder, the rangy Bellingham hardly looks like a teenager making his way in a man’s game – in January 2020 Birmingham boss Pep Clotet even revealed that he had grown 2.4 centimetres since the beginning of the 2019/20 campaign. Bellingham eats up ground – whether in his defensive duties or while supporting the attack – and has proven more than capable of coping with the physical intensity of the Championship.
Having previously captained the England U17 team, he has already played in several positions during his young career. But at the heart of the midfield action – where former Liverpool and England captain Gerrard thrived – is surely where Bellingham's future lies.
Did you know?
Bellingham's father Mark was not a bad footballer himself. A prolific goalscorer in English non-league football, Bellingham Snr. recorded more than 700 goals during a playing career that spanned over 20 years. Jude’s younger brother Jobe, meanwhile, is also on the books of Birmingham.
Watch: Jude Bellingham's first day at Borussia Dortmund
What they’re saying
"He has enormous potential, which we want to develop together further in the coming years. He already has astonishing quality with and without the ball, while he also has a strong mentality. We see Jude as an immediate reinforcement for our first-team squad, but will also allow him the time he needs to acclimatise to the higher level." – Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc
"This summer he matured a lot. He's quiet, very well-grounded, very professional and very mature… It's difficult to say how far he can go when you have such a huge talent like him at such a young age." – Former Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet after Bellingham's goal against Stoke
"They have got some talented players, particularly the young boy Bellingham who at 16 years of age is an absolutely phenomenal player. Having worked in the Championship and understanding how tough that is – to play week in, week out at that level – for a kid of 16 years of age to show that sort of quality and personality and talent alongside that is incredible really." – Leicester City head coach Brendan Rodgers before his side faced Birmingham in the FA Cup
"He is very modern because he can play any position in the midfield. He has played centre midfield, on the wing, as a striker. He performs everywhere. If I put Jude in a line-up, from the team sheet the opposition coach will not have an idea where he is going to play… Jude is always learning because he sets high demands on himself and his performance." – Clotet speaking in February 2020 about Bellingham’s development