Bellingham chooses Real Madrid
According to AS, despite strong interest from City and United, the 19-year-old doesn’t want to return to England.
Jude Bellingham (19 years old) remains firm: he wants Real Madrid and the midfielder’s choice is to give priority to Los Blancos. As AS has learned, the Englishman prefers Madrid as a return to England is not part of the player’s plans at the moment. When he left Birmingham at the age of 17 to go to Germany, it was very much a calculated decision as he had decided that foreign experience could aid his career more than remaining in his home nation. He bet on becoming a star outside his country, something that has turned out well in Dortmund, and he sees no reason to change it.
Madrid has received feedback from Bellingham’s entourage that strengthens their plans, which is to have Bellingham as the Galáctico of 2023 (Haaland will be 2024). Having Bellingham’s ‘yes’ in their pocket is essential for the mighty operation that the club has set up around this transfer. This way, Madrid avoid entering a bloody bidding war with his three great British potential employers, Manchester City, United and Liverpool, which would likely fire the price of Bellingham up to one that would make things impossible for the Spanish side to keep up with. With that tricky alternative reality off the table, reaching an agreement with Borussia Dortmund, a club with an excellent relationship with Madrid, would be easier.
Despite this huge card up Real Madrid’s wizard sleeve, the club is realistic about the cost of the transfer and even more after the excellent World Cup the midfielder had with the Three Lions. An agreement in the range of 120 million euros seems inevitable, although the Dortmund don’t plan to put up a fight. Hans-Joachim Watzke, the boss of the German club, is committed to maintaining this fluid relationship with Real Madrid, which in recent years has allowed him preferential access to the loan of several of Real Madrid’s younger stars, such as Hakimi Achraf and Reinier.
From the point of view of the Spanish club, Bellingham’s positive attitude clears up one of the possible questions surrounding his adaptation, which is his transition to the dressing room. Madrid wants him to share the space with Modric in 2023 to aid his settling in process and made a changeover sweet in the middle of the pitch as of 2024, when it is expected that the Croatian might begin a new chapter in his life, retired with all the trophies he could wish for, or beginning a new adventure in another country.
“Bellingham is the future of midfielders”, they have concluded within the corridors of Madrid, but the adaptation of a British footballer to Los Blancos continues to be a recurring historical event with very different outcomes. David Beckham and Steve McManaman managed it, but Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate not so much. And there is the recent example of Gareth Bale, who is in his own league.
As AS has revealed on previous occasions, Madrid has made the choice to go into the market only for specific footballers or for irresistible opportunities (Rüdiger, for example): Bellingham is part of that first group. Despite his young age, he is considered ready to move a level up and lead the way within a great team. It is also thought that if he falls into the monied hands of the Premier League, due to the gigantic economic potential of the Big Six (Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal), it will be almost impossible to get him out of the bubble in the future.
What’s more, Bellingham was the only England starter in Qatar who doesn’t play in the Premier League - and never has done. Therefore, Madrid have been working with the player to offer themselves as the best alternative outside of England.
The World Cup has been the latest shining appearance of a Bellingham that is being put alongside Musiala (Bayern) as the superstars of the Bundesliga. At Dortmund, he has emerged as a total midfielder who has now broadened his range of influence, which was already large, with goals. He is about to reach ten goals this season and he is the top scorer for the side in this Champions League, with four goals. In the round of 16 he will return home, as the draw paired Dortmund up with Chelsea.
He has a projected growth that Madrid, with Ancelotti the first on the list, consider would fit like a glove in the idea of renovating the midfield, something a club started two years ago. Fede Valverde, which was a project worked on by Real Madrid Castilla (the B team), was joined by Camavinga (20 years old) in 2021, Tchouameni (22 years old) in 2022 and Bellingham would be the jigsaw piece of 2023, at just 20 years old. It is a construction project without pressure, being able to generate a mix with the veterans Modric and Kroos, who continue to impart a master classes with each other on a weekly basis, forming top-level competition in the eleven.
There is money to face it
To finish building together that youthful midfield those in Madrid are craving, they will have to make a strong investment with Jude Bellingham - but financially it won’t be a problem. The signing of Tchouameni was divided (€20M of the €100M total are in variables) and then the club made cash with Casemiro (€72 million fixed and €13M in variables). The talent of Dortmund is another footballer who will more than break the barrier of €100M, but in Madrid they have the muscle for it.
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