He may still only be 19, but Jude Bellingham is the heartbeat of the Borussia Dortmund team.
The England midfielder displayed all the qualities that make him one of the brightest talents in world football with two match-defining performances in the space of a week.
It was the perfect warm-up for Bellingham before Dortmund face Man City in the Champions League – live on talkSPORT.
First there was his telling contribution in the DFB Pokal against Hannover.
Dortmund took the lead, but found themselves second best for the majority of the game to the second tier side.
Bellingham had been rested for the match but came on with 30 minutes to go and took charge.
He won a penalty and then took it upon himself to score the spot kick, which he did.
The teenager was then pivotal in Dortmund’s 5-0 drubbing of Stuttgart at home, scoring a brace.
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He netted inside the first 90 seconds to set the tone for the match and showed real leadership in the team.
Bellingham constantly shows wisdom beyond his years, with German football expert Kevin Hatchard telling talkSPORT: “He has the energy of a 19-year-old and the brain of a 39-year-old player.”
He added: “What’s been interesting for me this season is he’s added more goals to his game. He is their top scorer in cup competitions, he’s scored in each of the first four group games in the Champions League.
“He’s scored in the cup in a couple of rounds and he bursts into the box. He’s a genuine box-to-box midfielder.
“I think if you play him too deep then you don’t get the best out of him. You have to give him licence to get forward.
“He can tackle and can break up the play. He’s incredibly intense and happy to do all the dirty work, happy to get in people’s faces, happy to talk to the referee and shout at him and shout at everybody and he’s happy to lead.
“If England didn’t start him at the World Cup, I think that would be an error.”
Man City will be more than aware of Bellingham’s threat after he scored in their Champions League meeting at the Etihad earlier this season, needing two goals in the last 10 minutes to win.
Pep Guardiola spoke about all the qualities Bellingham possesses, saying Dortmund has been a brilliant place for his development.
He hinted that he may not have got the same chances straight away had he been at a top six club.
Guardiola himself was very cautious to slowly introduce Phil Foden to the City team and is now reaping the rewards.
“Borussia Dortmund is the perfect place for young talent to come,” Guardiola said.
“Maybe if Jude Bellingham was in England he would go to City, United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham, maybe he would not get the minutes. The best thing for a young player to be better is to play minutes.
“He was 17 when he arrived but it was not just about his quality, how he was leading, his kicking, going to the referee. This guy was something special in terms of his mentality. Now he is 19 and he is already one of the captains. The quality, everybody knows it. The whole package is really good.”
So far, he has scored in every single group stage game this season and has notched eight goals, and two assists, in all competitions.
We knew Bellingham was a special talent, right from when he broke into the Birmingham City side as a 16-year-old.
In just a few short years he’s gone from dominating the Championship, to dominating the Champions League.
He is a strong voice in the Dortmund dressing room, so much so that he is third captain behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels.
With Reus a doubt with an ankle injury, and Hummels picking up a knock in the weekend win, Bellingham may just get the armband to face City.
Dortmund boss Edin Terzic also backed Bellingham to be a dominant force with England over the next few years.
“Borussia Dortmund is well known for offering young talents the platform to play at the highest level,” said Terzic. “I think Jude is the oldest 19-year-old I’ve ever seen. He’s great on and off the pitch. We are really happy with him. It’s a win-win situation.
“Not only do we benefit from him, but Dortmund is also the right step for him in his development. Jude will have a big impact, not only tomorrow and for the rest of the season, but also with the England national team in the next few years.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with Declan Rice at West Ham and I think both of them are going to dominate English football, in terms of the midfield positions, for the next decade.
“This season, Jude has a slightly different role within the team. He’s more attacking, he’s entering the opposition box many times. He already scored eight goals for us this season. This is the next step that we talked about with him before the season.
“We’re very happy that he is performing this way, but we know his development is not finished yet and we are here to support him and to find his limits.”
- Jude Bellingham called ‘whole package’ by Pep Guardiola as he prepares for Man City Champions League clash with back-to-back match-winning performances and could be Borussia Dortmund captain
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