Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham has attracted plenty of attention as a result of his outstanding displays in the Championship this season.
Despite only turning 16 in June, Bellingham has been a shining light for Pep Clotet’s side this season, starting 18 of his team’s opening 29 league games.
The teenager has been linked with a move away from St Andrew’s in recent times, with numerous clubs from around Europe keeping tabs on the player. However, it was recently revealed that Manchester United have made an offer of more than £30m as they look to secure his services.
With that in mind, here are six things to know about one of the country’s brightest young talents…
Birmingham’s Youngest Ever Player & Scorer
Jude Bellingham was born on 29 June 2003. To put that into context, Roman Abramovich officially bought Chelsea Football Club at the start of July 2003.
On 6 August 2019, Bellingham was handed his first senior start for Birmingham as they travelled to take on Portsmouth in the first round of the Carabao Cup. In doing so, he became the club’s youngest ever first-team player, aged just 16 years and 38 days. This record was previously held by Trevor Francis, who was the grand old age of 16 years and 139 days when he first appeared for Birmingham.
Bellingham made his first appearance in the league as he came on during the 3-0 defeat to Swansea towards the end of August, but he was handed his first start in the next game at home to Stoke. With his side drawing 1-1, the youngster drove forward before deciding to try his luck from distance. The ball took a deflection and found its way into the back of the net.
While it wasn’t exactly a ‘worldie’, it was outstanding from Bellingham to stride forward with confidence and take it upon himself to create an opportunity. Oh, he also became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer as well.
The prodigy has gone on to make 26 appearances in all competitions so far this season for Clotet’s side, registering four goals and providing one assist. These stats may not exactly be prolific, but they are very impressive when considering his team’s lowly league position – and also the number of positions he has played in.
Bellingham has primarily been deployed in central midfield this campaign, but he has also played on either flank, as well as in the attacking midfielder role and even as a centre forward (on one occasion).
He works tirelessly for the team and has been bright in whatever position he has played, but his manager believes he is most effective when playing in the central midfield role. After their 2-1 win over Middlesborough back in October, Clotet told Birmingham’s official website: “For me, that’s Jude’s best position playing in midfield in front of the back four.
“When he made his debut here at St. Andrew’s he did it on the wing in the same position that Fran Villalba played on Friday. So, he had to come in and try to link in behind, but in my head, he was always a midfielder.”
Plays With a Maturity Beyond His Years
As previously noted, Bellingham doesn’t turn 17 until June. As a result, he isn’t even on a professional contract at Birmingham, and earns just £145 per week on a scholarship deal.
However, the talented teenager plays with a tremendous amount of maturity, constantly looking to harry and press his opponents when out of possession, while he will look to make penetrating runs forward or bring his teammates into the game when on the ball. The Englishman has astonishing technical ability and can easily get past his man with a clever piece of skill, but he has the awareness to know when it is most appropriate.
In his 25 league appearances so far, Bellingham has won 125 duels and made 94 ball recoveries, highlighting his ability to intelligently read the game. Perhaps what is most impressive is that he has an understanding of when to press and when to drop off. Equally, however, he is their second top goalscorer with four goals this season.
Despite his tender age, he is a player that certainly does not shy away from taking responsibility and he has proven to be a valuable first-team member.
He’s Attracted a Lot of Attention
Bellingham is a sensational talent and it is hardly a surprise that numerous European giants are showing an interest.
90min learned in September that Liverpool were leading the race for his signature, but there was also strong interest from Arsenal and Manchester City, as well as Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester United have since entered the race, with assistant Mike Phelan personally going to watch the starlet in action before encouraging United to push for a transfer in January. 90min recently learned that while Liverpool were leading the race, his family are open-minded about his future and would happily let him join any of the ‘big six’ sides or Leicester City.
Most recently, the Red Devils made a bid of more than £30m as they look to secure his services. It is unclear yet whether he will remain at Birmingham or seek a move elsewhere, but what is clear is that there is plenty of interest in this sensational talent.
England Under-17 Star
Plays with a maturity beyond his years? Check. Exceptional talent? Check. Offer of more than £30m made for his services? Check. Youngest ever Birmingham player? Check.
Well, he’s also a leader.
Bellingham captained the England Under-17 side at the Syrenka Cup in 2019, with the young Three Lions going on to win the friendly tournament. The starlet also picked up the Player of the Tournament award. He scored against both Finland and Austria before helping his side overcome Poland on penalties in the final.
The Son of a Non-League Legend
Jude is the son of Mark Bellingham, who enjoyed a prolific playing career in non-league football. Mark had spells with Leamington, Sutton Coldfield and Stourbridge among other West Midlands sides.
In total, he scored over 700 goals across his playing career. Not bad, really.
Over to you, Jude…