One of the hottest prospects in world football, Jude Bellingham has taken the Bundesliga by storm since signing for Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham City in 2020, and his stock is only increasing with a plethora of good performances. Having shone at the World Cup, helping England reach the quarter-finals and having a hand in their round of 16 win over Senegal with an assist as well as a goal in their group opener against Iran, it looks as if a big move is on the cards that will surpass a £100 million transfer fee.
As he looks to finish his third season at Dortmund strongly, this has been a season where Bellingham’s trajectory has skyrocketed. Just one point in the Bundesliga separates them and Bayern Munich at the time of writing, as over a decade wait for the league title could be over with Bellingham’s influence. He’s not even 20 yet and surpassed the likes of Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney for appearances at that age, being a key component in Dortmund’s success.
Having already won the DFB Pokal he’ll know how much winning a trophy means to such an adoring fan base, and while Dortmund have a strong squad, they were still very much considered underdogs in the football odds against the superpower that is Bayern.
Over the last two summers Dortmund have lost Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, with both forwards heading to Manchester — United then City respectively. However, as we weigh up Bellingham’s options, is the time right for the 19-year-old to depart Germany? Read on, as we take a look at three clubs Bellingham could ply his trade for next season.
1. Staying at Dortmund
Even if Bellingham leaves Dortmund, you wonder if he’ll ever receive the same level of love from a set of supporters again. Having already captained the club, he could develop into a true club legend and become a key component in the side’s revival. They showed ambition in the transfer market, and still have an exciting team, with the steely experience of Marco Reus and Mats Hummels coinciding with the youthful exuberance of Karim Adeyemi.
There would still be plenty of time for Bellingham to test the waters elsewhere at a later stage of his career, but with two more years left on his BVB contract, there’s still plenty of time to establish himself as the Bundesliga’s best midfielder and try to pick up a first league title since 2012.
He’s a popular figure with current manager Edin Terzic. It was the German who signed Bellingham and he believed that establishing himself in the Bundesliga was a better way of developing than joining a Premier League side back when he left Birmingham. “With all the respect for Jude and his performances we have been answering this question since he joined,” he said. “When he joined us there was interest from many Premier League clubs but he still chose us.
“He chose to join us because he knows this can be the perfect step for him and I think we’ve proven it both ways. He’s helping us a lot but I also think that we as a club on that stage are helping him and his career as well.
“We’re really happy and delighted that he is part of our team, he’s one of our leaders at the age of 19, he stepped through to the English national team as a player of BVB and this is something we’re really happy with.”
2. Real Madrid
This is the move that looks most likely to happen now Madrid have been dumped out of the Champions League. The 14-time European champions, Los Blancos are obviously going to be linked with Bellingham, and the move makes sense despite so much competition for places. While Toni Kroos announced he’ll no longer be retiring at the end of the season, he and Luka Modric are in the twilight of their years at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, and with Carlo Ancelotti likely to move on it makes sense for a new era to pave the way in the Spanish capital.
Aurélien Tchouaméni cost nearly £65 million from Monaco last season and the Frenchman has slotted straight in as Casemiro’s replacement. Then there’s Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde, who despite deputising as left back and out wide are both considered midfielders and will be vying for places at Bellingham’s expense.
It seems as though Liverpool are front runners for Bellingham’s signature if he is to leave. The midfielder’s blend of physicality and elegance have drawn comparisons to former captain Steven Gerrard, and with the 19-year-old practically joined at the hip to Jordan Henderson for England in Qatar, there are bound to have been words said that could influence his move to Anfield. Jurgen Klopp’s midfield is ageing, with Thiago, Henderson and Fabinho all in their 30s and a fresh face marquee signing could help Liverpool rediscover their form.
However, Jurgen Klopp dismissed any chance of a move for Bellingham due to the club’s financial constraints. While they might sneak a place in the top four should Manchester United capitulate, it’s unlikely the Reds will have the pull of Champions League football as a bargaining chip for Bellingham.
“We cannot have six players in a summer, everyone for £100m,” he said. “We are not children; when you ask a five-year-old what they want for Christmas and they say a Ferrari, you wouldn’t say ‘oh, that’s a good idea’.
“You would say ‘no, that is too expensive and anyway, you cannot drive it’. If this kid is then unhappy their whole life because he cannot get a Ferrari, it would be a really sad life. You look what you can do, and you work with that.
“What we need and what we want, we try absolutely everything to get it, but there are moments when you have to accept that this or that is not possible for us – you step aside and do different stuff.”
The departures of Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain mean an entire midfield revamp is likely, so multiple signings will be needed. Klopp felt that Bellingham would have been a luxury edition, and leaves questions of Liverpool’s recruitment, with Thiago being the only midfielder they’ve signed permanently since 2018. The likes of Mason Mount and Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister have been targeted for the Reds, but it would be foolish to rule out Bellingham ever playing for Liverpool at some point throughout his career.