Manchester United transfer target close to joining Bundesliga club
By Keith James and Rob Dorsett
Last Updated: 03/07/20 1:01pm
Borussia Dortmund are on the verge of agreeing a five-year deal to sign Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham.
The Bundesliga club have courted the midfielder, who turned 17 last week, for more than two years, amid stiff competition from most of Europe’s top teams, including Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and most notably Manchester United.
For now, no deal has been signed, but Dortmund believe they have broad agreement on all key issues and have secured the services of one of Europe’s most exciting talents.
Although Bellingham has not signed a professional contract with City, it’s understood they will receive a transfer fee in excess of the £21m which has been reported on Friday morning.
City’s policy could have risked losing their prised possession for a much smaller fee decided by tribunal.
However, the level of interest from Europe’s elite – plus their strong relationship with both the player and his family – meant the player has not signed a pro contract.
Bellingham will see out the remainder of the season at the Midlands club and is in the matchday squad for Saturday’s Championship clash at Fulham.
The England U17 skipper has chosen Dortmund due to the club’s long history of developing young talent and their policy of giving them the chance to play in the Bundesliga.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be disappointed to have missed out on the highly talented box-to-box midfielder. United pulled out all the stops, offering him a tour of their training ground with Sir Alex Ferguson.
Analysis: Why Bellingham is a special talent
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
Some say he is ‘the best player on the planet’ of his age. He made his debut for the England U15 team at just 13 and clubs all over Europe have been targeting him for years. Now it is Borussia Dortmund prepared to spend big on Jude Bellingham.
At the age of 17, his transition to the senior game has been seamless. The touch and the class are apparent but he has coped physically too – putting in plenty of tackles – and handled the mental side of the step up impressively well. All the signs are that he is someone who is going to maximise his talent – and that maximum looks higher than most.
Birmingham were well aware they had a unique talent on their hands for some time and the club deserves huge credit for their handling of Bellingham’s development both before and after his breakthrough into the first team. His transition has not been by luck. It has been a carefully thought-out process in order to help him along each step of the way.
The question now is whether he is prepared to take the next step in his development. There will be those who fear it is too soon. He has been playing regular Championship football, after all.
But the next step for Bellingham is the Bundesliga and Borussia Dortmund were not the only ones convinced that this is a player who is ready for that step sooner rather than later.
Speaking ahead of Bellingham’s move to Borussia Dortmund, Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Keith Andrews and his former boss Gary Rowett assessed the 17-year-old’s attributes and told us why he is such a special talent…
Andrews: Normally, top players get dipped into first-team action if they show a bit of promise, not very usually at this age, it’s normally at the age of 18, 19, 20, so I think that’s the first thing that strikes you. He’s a physical specimen.
Rowett: When he was about 12, I used to bring him down to my office now and again before a match just to have a chat to show how much the club appreciated him and how much the club valued him. The word at that time was that every single top European club had tried to buy him and had been watching him.
I think the words were that he was probably the most sought-after 12-year-old in Europe at one stage. I’m sure there was a little bit of propaganda with that, but ultimately that’s how well sought-after he’s been from four or five years ago.