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Jude Bellingham was a 9 and didn’t know it

Bellingham has four goals in three games for new club Real Madrid. His best ever league tally is eight goals.

Real Madrid's British midfielder Jude Bellingham celebrates his goal during the LaLiga Matchday 3 match between Celta de Vigo and Real Madrid this Friday at the Balaídos stadium, in Vigo. EFE/Laundress

His shirt number was 22 “because he could be a 4, an 8 and a 10″, but Jude Bellingham can add the No 9 role to the equation. The English talent has discovered in his short spell at Real Madrid that he has a killer instinct in the box, although perhaps he didn’t know it. In his first three league games for Los Blancos, he has found the back of the net four times: two goals with his right foot and two headers, including a late one in Friday’s victory at Balaídos.

0-1. Peina Joselu un córner y Jude Bellingham entra con todo en el área pequeña para rematar de cabeza y superar a Iván Villar.
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This is how Bellingham scored the 0-1 in Vigo.JAVIER GANDULDIARIO AS

Bernabéu debut

“It’s crazy, I don’t know what to say, I’m speechless,” said David Alaba after the 1-0 victory in Galicia. “They are goals from a centre-forward,” added Emilio Butragueño. The England international has scored 66.7% of the team’s goals so far this season, something not achieved by a Madrid player since Iván Zamorano in 1994, who scored four of the opening six goals that season. If Bellingham scores against Getafe, he will equal Cristiano Ronaldo’s record. The Portuguese forward scored five goals in his first four matches with Madrid in 2009. It will also be Bellingham’s debut at the Bernabéu. “Love a late winner. Time to see my new home,” he wrote on Instagram after the Celta game.

Better all-round player

Bellingham arrived as the most sought-after midfielder on the planet and has already scored half as many league goals as he did in the highest-scoring campaign of his short career. Last season he netted eight times for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga (14 in all competitions) and according to himself, he is now “ten times the player”.

Replacing Benzema

Carlo Ancelotti did not take long to detect that he was strong in attack and placed him in the 10 role, with three midfielders behind (Tchouaméni, Valverde and Camavinga). And the new system is bringing out the best of Bellingham. In preseason, Ancelotti deployed a 4-3-3 formation with Bellingham as a false nine and recently acknowledged that “at the club” they believe “that the arrival of Bellingham covers the absence of Benzema”. Big boots to fill, indeed, but Bellingham is filling them.


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