Stuart Barker shines a spotlight on the young player making waves in the English Championship.
Reports suggest that Birmingham City’s 16-year-old midfielder, Jude Bellingham, recently visited Manchester United’s Carrington training ground to meet with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
The youngster has been earning rave reviews in the English Championship and is also attracting attention from the likes of Borussia Dortmund. The German club are rumoured to be considering a bid of over £30m for the teen.
Bellingham made club history on August 6th 2019, when at 16 years and 38 days he became the club’s youngest ever player, featuring in a 3-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Portsmouth.
I was at that game — sadly for Bellingham it wasn’t a game to remember, as Portsmouth were much the better side and Birmingham offered very little against their lower league opponents.
Performances have since picked up and Birmingham City currently sit in sixteenth place with thirty-nine points. Yet they have drawn almost as many games as they’ve won this season, including five of their last six games.
Bellingham is an intelligent player with an eye for a pass. He has won the hearts of Blues fans with winning goals against Championship rivals Stoke City and Charlton Athletic.
Bellingham was rested against Leicester City in the recent FA Cup tie. This was a shame; it would’ve been interesting to see how he could have coped against a top Premier League side. But in the long run, it was probably a wise decision to take the pressure off Bellingham.
At the age of 13, Bellingham represented England at under-15 level and even wrote a diary for his school’s website about his debut against Turkey at St George’s Park. In this diary he described his elation at learning he’d be coming off the bench to make his debut.
There seems to be a real maturity among England’s current crop of talented youngsters and Bellingham is no different. He is currently studying A-Level Sociology, and told the League Football Education website, “I understand the importance of education and how much my parents want me to have it nailed on. It keeps me occupied, so I’m not just sitting at home playing video games.”
At 16 years old Bellingham is still on an academy contract and unable to sign professionally until his seventeenth birthday in June. I would be very surprised if he signs his first professional contract at St Andrews.
Whether United are in pole position or not remains to be seen. This visit might be the first of many meetings, as the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and other Premiership sides have been casting an eye over his performances this season.
Bellingham finds himself in a similar position to Dortmund’s Erling Braut Håland. Håland chose to be patient and continue to learn his trade in a more suitable environment which provided a good standard of football, but without the pressure and scrutiny that he’d be subjected to had he opted for a move to United.
While we have no idea what the future holds for Bellingham, I am confident we are looking at a future England international.
Follow Stuart on Twitter @_ChuBarker