Jude Bellingham's only earns £145 a week but is destined for the top

Jude Bellingham is mature beyond his years at 16 and earns just £145 a week… now Borussia Dortmund want to turn him into their latest attacking midfield star and beat Man United to his signature, despite Fergie’s pitch to lure him to Old Trafford

  • Jude Bellingham is 16 but has already been linked with United and Dortmund
  • His desire to play abroad tells you everything about a maturity beyond his years
  • A diary entry from his England Under 15s days lifts the lid on his early mindset
  • Dortmund believe he will eventually move central and he is destined for the top 

It says everything about Jude Bellingham that, at the age of 16, he is seriously considering the idea of living and working in a high-pressure environment in a foreign country. 

Although many footballers move countries at that age and younger, it is still very unusual for British players do so. Yet such is Bellingham’s maturity that he is thinking about swapping Birmingham for Dortmund, swapping English for German, swapping familiarity for the unknown.

Indeed, according to reports, he is on the verge of signing for Borussia Dortmund, the go-to club for Europe’s great young hopes.

Manchester United may feel hard done by – they gave Bellingham and his parents a tour of the training ground, with Sir Alex Ferguson present, but it seems as though they will miss out although not all hope is lost just yet.

Jude Bellingham is only 16 but his desire to play abroad tells you plenty about his maturity

Bellingham (hidden in the back of the car) recently visited Manchester United’s training base

Sportsmail understands that the success of Jadon Sancho in the Bundesliga has made a particular impression on Bellingham, which has been a factor in turning him more towards Dortmund rather than the Premier League. 

Even though he does not turn 17 until June 29, Bellingham has made 35 appearances in all competitions this season and has quickly earned the respect of his team-mates. They have been hugely impressed by his calmness on the ball, his willingness to work off it, and his unflappable temperament.

Bellingham’s level-headed nature was apparent from an early age. When he was 13, he was selected for England Under-15s and was asked to write a diary of his experiences for Priory School in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Though he was understandably starry-eyed on his arrival at St George’s Park, he already understood the value of rest and recovery.

‘As soon as I stepped out of the car I knew that I was in for a very special experience,’ he recalled. ‘Every step I took towards the main entrance, the excitement inside of me grew and grew and grew to the point of which I just wanted to get out onto the pitch.

‘After getting changed and putting on our training essentials we left for the pitches – the crisp, spectacular pitches. For all the players including myself training was a breeze as we prepared lightly for our upcoming game against European heavyweights Turkey. Overall Friday was a fairly long day and I was glad to be tucked up nice and warm at the end of it, realising the importance of a good rest I drifted off. I couldn’t have asked for a better first day.’

He currently only earns £145 a week but with top clubs chasing him, he is destined for the top

Bellingham is keen to follow the same path to Dortmund as Jadon Sancho did from Man City

How he copes with imminent change might shape his career. At the moment, Bellingham earns just £145 per week and until recently, he was combining school work with training. That life was light years away from the pressures of a top-level club yet Bellingham has always had strong family support.

His father, former non-league striker Mark Bellingham, is the most important influence on his career; the family are Birmingham supporters and Jude grew up in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands. His younger brother, Jobe, is part of Blues’ Under-14 squad but has represented the Under-15 and Under-16 age groups this season. Like Jude, Jobe is an attacking midfielder of considerable promise.

Entering a dressing room like United’s would be daunting – and despite his remarkable natural talent, there are still improvements for Bellingham to make. Like many young players, his decision-making in attacking areas could sometimes be better, as could his finishing.

At such an early stage of his career, however, this is to be expected, and as Bellingham gets older, he should produce far higher numbers than this season’s four goals and two assists.

He currently plays out wide but it is thought he will eventually move into a more central role

Bellingham has a fine range of passing, a superb first touch and can carry the ball at speed

Though he has spent most of the season wide, the Dortmund scouts who have tracked him for more than two years believe he will eventually play in a central attacking midfield role. His first touch is superb, has a fine range of passing, and he is comfortable carrying the ball at speed.

Yet Bellingham is not simply an attacking force: he is strong in the tackle and extremely mobile, vital attributes when competing in a league as physically demanding as the Championship.

Blues coach Pep Clotet has trusted Bellingham to handle the strain and rested him only recently, for games against QPR in the league and Leicester in the FA Cup. Some have wondered whether Bellingham has played too much when he is so young, yet so far, there have been few problems.

Bellingham made history on 6 August 2019 when, at 16 years and 38 days, he became the club’s youngest player – breaking the record set by Blues legend Trevor Francis in 1970. Francis was the first £1million footballer when he left St Andrew’s to join Nottingham Forest in 1979. It is safe to assume that when he does eventually move, Bellingham will cost considerably more than that.

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