Name: Jude Bellingham
Current Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Central Midfielder
Jude Bellingham joined Birmingham City as an under-8, and he played for their under-18 team at just the age of 14. He then went on to play for the under-23 side when he was just 15 years old.
In 2019, Bellingham made his professional debut in a league cup defeat to Portsmouth in the first round of the EFL Cup. He became Birmingham’s youngest ever first team player at just the age of 16 years and 38 days. His performance in his debut led to The Birmingham Mail awarding Bellingham man of the match for his debut performance.
He made his first football league performance when he came on as a second half substitute against Swansea in August 2019. Bellingham got his first goal after coming on as a sub against Stoke after half hour for the injured Jefferson Montero. That goal meant Bellingham was Birmingham’s youngest ever goal scorer.
Bellingham initially started on the left wing for Birmingham when he came into the side, but moved into the centre of midfield, with his manager at the time Pep Clotet stating that Bellingham ‘feels more comfortable in midfield, and more comfortable when he can get closer to the opposition box’.
Bellingham played 41 league appearances in the 2019-20 season and helped Birmingham avoid relegation as he finished the season with four goals and three assists. He was named Championship Apprentice of the Year and EFL Young Player of the season.
The Englishman then moved to Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2020, reportedly declining a move to Manchester United, after being impressed with Dortmund’s record of playing the younger players.
Bellingham made his debut for Dortmund in a DFB-Pokal game against third tier MSV Duisburg. Bellingham scored the second goal in a 5-0 win and become Dortmund’s youngest goal scorer in the DFB-Pokal and the clubs youngest goal scorer in a competitive match. He won the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for September and went on to become the youngest Englishman to play in a Champions League match when he played against Lazio at the age of 17 years and 113 days.
In Bellingham’s short time at Dortmund, he has a goal to his name and three assists to his name, with two coming in the league and one coming in the Champions League.
Jude Bellingham played for the England under-16s on seven occasions and scored four goals and captained the side. In September 2019, Bellingham was included in the under-17 squad for the Syrenka cup, a friendly tournament. He made his debut in the opening game after he came on as a substitute in their 5-0 win over Finland. In that game he scored the third goal for England. In the second game of the tournament, he captained the side and scored in a 4-2 win over Austria. England went on to win the tournament and he won player of the tournament.
In September 2020, Bellingham was called up for the under-21 squad for European Qualifiers against Kosovo and Austria. Bellingham came on in the 62nd minute against Kosovo and scored in the 6-0 win. His appearance made him the youngest player to play for the England under-21s.
Bellingham international ascent was completed when he was called up as a replacement on November 10th, 2020, when James Ward-Prowse and Trent Alexander-Arnold withdrew from the squad through injury. He made his international debut when he came on in the 73rd minute against Republic of Ireland, in a 3-0 win. He was the third youngest player to play for England, with only Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney appearing for the national side at a younger age.
Bellingham has been likened to former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Viera, and though personally I am not overly keen on likening promising players to legends, there is definite elements of Bellingham’s game that are similar.
Bellingham is confident attacking the opposition box with the ball, but is comfortable in defensive tasks, with a willingness and hunger to win the ball back for his team with well-timed tackles and important interceptions.
As a centre midfielder he will only improve as he gets older and he gets stronger physically, but it is nice to see a midfielder in the modern game not boxed in to being just a defensive midfielder or an attacking midfielder, Bellingham has the ability to cover both bases effectively.
Bellingham possesses a wonderful first touch and demonstrates his technical ability in tight situations with defenders around him as he can control the ball effectively in tight areas.
If his role in the team allows, one area Bellingham could improve is making more runs in behind to support the forward players, when his team are on the offensive.
What makes Bellingham so exciting in the modern game is he has defensive abilities as well as attacking ones, and he brings his aggression from his forward-thinking qualities to the defensive side of the game. He naturally presses well and seeks to win the ball quickly not allowing the opposition time on the ball, which matches Borussia Dortmund’s philosophy well.
He also possesses effective passing ability, but this can still be improved. He will want to improve his creativity and with that, he will want to add more assists to his game, however that will improve as he is still very young with his career only just beginning so his game will develop.
Surrounded by exceptional talent at Dortmund with the likes of Haalund, Sancho, Reus, Reyna, and Witsel, will see only benefits for Bellingham and his development. Also, under a coach in Lucien Favre who supports his young players and places confidence in them, he will gain confidence and crucial first team experience at a high level when he is playing in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League.
A positive season with Dortmund could also see him with a chance of being in the squad for England for the Euro’s in 2021.
At 17, there should not be too much pressure as his ascent has already been phenomenal from August 2019, making his debut in the EFL Cup to playing in the Champions League for Dortmund a year later his progression has been amazing and he will undoubtedly continue to improve.