The scramble for Jude Bellingham’s signature this summer, already frenzied, has intensified after two more eye-catching displays in the England shop window. After his superb World Cup, the teenage phenomenon’s performances continued in much the same vein against Italy and Ukraine to show just why he is such a man in demand.
Borussia Dortmund are demanding £115million for his services but even at that price there is no shortage of suitors with Liverpool, once head of the queue, facing ferocious competition from the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson does not know if the club will succeed in bringing his England midfield partner to Anfield.
But he believes that whoever ends up with him on their books will have landed a gem. “If it ended up being Liverpool that would be amazing. But it’s got to be right for him and it’s going to be every club you can think of that will want him,” said Henderson.
“He has to think about himself and make sure he makes the right decision for his career but there’s going to be one lucky club that will end up getting him. Dortmund is a really good club, playing Champions League all the time, week in week out - that’s really helped him.
“I’m sure he’ll sit down with his family in the future to decide what route he wants to take. Whatever route that is, whatever club, that will be a lucky club to have him. Every time he puts on an England shirt he grows and is getting better and better all the time.
“Of course there are things he can improve on and get better at — he’s only 19 — but with the base he has got he can go as high as he wants to.” The only comparable English teenager in terms of maturity that Gareth Southgate can think of was Wayne Rooney.
The only clue that Bellingham really is 19 that was offered up at Wembley on Sunday night was the loud yawn he issued as he walked past Henderson in mid-flow. Other than that, the evidence continues to point to a birth certificate error.
The Brummie wonder’s influence on the pitch is towering with and without the ball as the stats breakdown that showed 16 ground duels won and six opponents dribbled past over the course of the two games illustrated. He is a No 8 and a No 10 rolled into one.
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The reality is that an England midfield without Bellingham, who won his 24th cap at the weekend is already unthinkable. He is a fixture for the next decade. “His potential is through the roof, really. He can be as good as he wants to be,” said Henderson.
“He is a really special player. He's got the right mentality, which is the most important thing. Honestly, I can’t believe his age, how mature he plays, how mature he is off the pitch, in the gym, training, recovery day after the game, everything.
“He is just dedicated to football. I've never seen it before so I'm pretty confident that he'll be a pretty good player for many years to come.”