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Will Jude Bellingham occupy one of Real Madrid’s three non-EU spots?

Real Madrid are close to sealing a deal to sign England star Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, in a transfer worth over €100m.

Real Madrid are close to sealing a deal to sign England star Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, in a transfer worth over €100m.

Jude Bellingham is set to be confirmed as Real Madrid’s first signing of the summer period. The England midfielder, who turns 20 at the end of June, is expected to join from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €103 million, with Madrid also paying a further €31m in potential add-ons. Dortmund have informed the Frankfurt stock exchange that they have agreed a deal in principle with Los Blancos.

Will Bellingham fill a non-EU spot in Madrid’s squad?

Yes. Bellingham will be one of the maximum of three non-European Union players that Madrid are allowed to register in their 25-man squad for LaLiga. Because of Brexit, British citizens have had third-country-national status in Spain, and the 26 other EU member states, since 31 January 2021. An exception was initially made in Spain for British footballers already in the country: the Spanish Football Federation, LaLiga and the players’ union agreed that they would continue to be considered EU players for the duration of club contracts signed before the UK’s departure from the bloc. This, clearly, is a loophole that will not apply in Bellingham’s case.

Madrid’s non-EU spots are all available

As things stand, however, Bellingham’s immigration status is not a problem for Madrid. The club currently has all three of its permitted EU spots available, after Brazilians Vinícius Júnior, Éder Militão and Rodrygo Goes were all granted Spanish nationality last year. Vinícius obtained citizenship in September, with Militão and Rodrygo following suit a month later.

Rule only in force in Spanish league

It should be highlighted that the restriction on non-EU players in Spain’s domestic game only applies in LaLiga. In the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup, there are no such limits.

The rule doesn’t exist in European competition, either, although UEFA does require teams’ 25-man Champions League squads to include eight homegrown players, of which four must have been developed at the club. UEFA considers a player to be homegrown, or “locally trained”, if he has spent three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21 in the club’s country. He is deemed to be “club trained” if he has spent three seasons between 15 and 21 on the club’s books.

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