There is nothing Jude Bellingham can’t do

you welcome in window shopping, a recurring feature in which Defector highlights and analyzes some of the biggest players who are rumored to be turning in big money in every window. Every summer and January, we take a look at these potential stars to answer two simple questions: Who the heck is this guy, and why is he worth that much money?

Did you know that Jude Bellingham is 19 years old? Anyone vaguely familiar with the Borussia Dortmund and England legend probably knows this fact. After all, there is a right to the word: wonderin adolescence. However, watching him dribble around the midfield of Germany and, more recently, Qatar sometimes makes me forget that he’s barely an adult. That’s what being a 6-foot-1 and starting for England would do for a player’s reputation.

Bellingham is a player who has walked away from English teams, so it makes sense that he is, by a comfortable margin, the most sought-after English player in the transfer market these days. After he made it through Birmingham City’s youth system and broke into the first team, there were rumors in 2020 that he would move straight to one of the big clubs in his home country. Manchester United were the favorites there, but Bellingham wisely moved to continental Europe instead, going to Dortmund, ready to enjoy all the playing time promised by the black and yellow, for around €30m.

With this move, Bellingham became an instant lock in the starting eleven, even at the age of seventeen. He made 46 appearances for Dortmund that first season, winning the Bundesliga Newcomer Award. After another stellar season at Dortmund in 2021-22, Bellingham’s eventual return to England, for well over €30m, is starting to look like a foregone conclusion.

This is where Bellingham now stands, with the impressive World Cup bonus cementing his reputation and value. Bellingham played in all five matches for England in Qatar, scoring a goal and setting up one more time, as the Three Lions reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to runners-up France. Bellingham looked like he belonged there with the best internationals, and had nothing but a poor game against the USA midfield. He was one of England’s best players in Iran’s 6-2 opener, and best period, in their Round of 16 victory over Senegal, assisting Jordan Henderson’s opener and setting up the counter for England’s second match. Strong impulse from the depths of his half:

Now that the championship is in the rearview mirror, the question is Bellingham’s timing. Dortmund know how to get the maximum value for their young stars, as evidenced in part by Jadon Sancho’s €85m transfer to United in the summer of 2021. Stand up to the English sides who want to sign him for an absurd amount of money. Nothing Bellingham has shown over the past two-and-a-half seasons hints at him being a bust, but will he be able to grow to what will surely be more than €100m?

It’s Liverpool, right? For months now, the Pool Boys have not only been linked but heavily favored to sign Bellingham, with the only question being pricing. Bellingham is the perfect match, at any cost, and if the rumor flow is to be believed, this iconic kit will be out as soon as January, but more likely in the summer:

Of course, nothing is simple when it comes to Liverpool’s midfield, and there is a higher level question left here: given reports that John Henry and Fenway Sports Group want to sell the club, would they spend that much money in the hope of turning a profit? Is the asset more valuable before selling? Or will they refuse to let Bellingham go elsewhere, like Manchester United, the other rich side that has been constantly linked with Bellingham over the past year or more? Oh, and hey, PSG is also making noise. And there is always Real Madrid, who at some point will have to replace Luka Modric. Could. Who knows with Modric? The point is, there is a lot of money at stake here, but Liverpool seem to be the first domino to fall.

No, Bellingham will definitely be on the move, if not now, then in the summer. This isn’t really in question; Dortmund can try to play hardball but it doesn’t make sense to not see everyone involved with Bellingham move for a lot of money. If there’s nonsense to be found here, it’s about the aforementioned John Henry factor, and your guess is as good as mine there. Henry has spent money for Liverpool, but he has also not spent the amount the club has needed in recent years to keep the good times going. The midfield has needed reinforcements for some time now, however, and there has been no real signing since the – brilliant and injury-prone – Thiago in September 2020.

It’s also no nonsense that teams like United, Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid and possibly Manchester City would jump at the chance to sign Bellingham if Liverpool’s links falter, so stay tuned, I guess.

Make your choice for this section. If a central midfielder has to do something to be considered top-class, Bellingham will probably do it well. Let’s start with the crime. Despite mostly playing as a pure midfielder or defensive player, Bellingham participates in a lot of offensive plays. He’s comfortable with the ball at his feet as he drives forward – see for example his run over the counter against Senegal above – but also runs into open spaces. Statistically, he’s an iconic passer – he generates 3.32 shot-making runs every 90 minutes, and five progressive passes in the same time frame – but he’s also a powerhouse for the dribbler. He’s not afraid to take on defenders, but also seems to know when a great pass is needed, like the one against Borussia Mönchengladbach in November, instead:

On defense, however, Bellingham could be more impressive and more valuable. The man never stops running or chasing opponents when his team is away from the ball. He’s a coming-in machine—averaging 2.5 per 90—but he’s no headless chicken. He also knows when to sit down and intercept passes. Add to that his tall frame, and it’s impossible for most midfielders to duel in the air. The combination of his defensive strength and forward momentum makes him as central a midfielder as he is in Europe now, and he’s likely to continue to hone his decision on when to step up and when to make from deeper.

Honestly, finding a flaw in Bellingham is a bit tricky at the moment. Given all he can do and do for Dortmund and England, any shortcoming would be associated with potential rewards in his collection rather than a glaring red flag. So, sure, he can and should probably score more, given how well he moves on and off the ball, but do I really want to put pressure on a midfielder who doesn’t make attacking action as well? He still scores the highest six per cent for midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues, so he doesn’t seem to be lacking there, unless the plan is to take him to a higher level on the pitch. (This is not outside the realm of possibility, but it would certainly devalue some of his talents in midfield.)

Perhaps the one thing that really stands out as something Bellingham isn’t already elite at is controlling their possession game. It’s a good passer, not great, unless he’s rushing the backline in quick counters and moves. (There, it’s excellent.) When it comes to slowing down the game to allow his attackers to find open spots, he could use a little more patience. However, asking Bellingham for this is a bit like asking a high-end sports car to be good at parallel parking; That’s not why you left the bag in the first place.

If a top team needs a midfielder who can rotate through each of the three archetypes – destroyer, creator and ball-carrier – then Bellingham should be at the top of their shopping list. In a three-man midfield he can get into the base of the pivot to provide a quality passer and dribbler while not giving up too much defensive quality. He can also play as the most advanced of the trio, using his running and dribbling skills to pressure a defensive line that is already tackling the team’s forwards. With that said, his most valuable role appears to be the No. 8 midfielder between these two. It would give him the freedom to be everywhere at once, and this is the role in which he has found most of his success at Dortmund. Freed from being the main defensive backbone of his midfield, Bellingham can still press insanely but also move himself into dangerous positions once his team gets the ball back.

But the cool thing about Bellingham is that it’s not necessarily limited to one of these roles in a specific game, or even to a specific time period within the game. If he were to play in midfield with only one partner, he could switch between playing as the more conservative of the duo, protecting his defence, and the more attacking midfielder, overburdening the middle of the park. He’s probably less glamorous in this lineup, by virtue of not having a set role, but no big team would have to modify their system extensively to fit him. In, for example, Chelsea line-up 2-1, behind Mason Mount and next to Jorginho.

Expensive transfers tend to change things, be it the dressing room, the squad hierarchy, the manager’s position, the outlook of the fans, or the domestic and international scene. With that in mind, this section attempts to determine who stands to lose from a potential transfer.

Given that Bellingham is the brightest jewel in the pool of English players, it’s safe to say that every Premier League club that doesn’t sign him will hate this one the most. This, of course, is on a sliding scale: clubs that can actually afford his cost and allure – for example, Manchester teams, Liverpool or Chelsea – will regret Bellingham with great rage, while a team like Southampton will only look at him with envy before returning to battle. Landing. I think Liverpool will probably suffer the biggest blow if, as expected, Bellingham does not turn red. Not only do they need midfield help as quickly as possible, but Bellingham fits perfectly into Jurgen Klopp’s system of high pressure and versatility.

Speaking of Liverpool’s midfield, there will be few players based at Anfield who would see Bellingham’s signing as the death knell. Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and James Milner (if he somehow sticks around) will see their playing time drop quickly with the addition, and even captain Jordan Henderson should start a slow gradual elimination process if the sale goes through.

Significant signatures are bound to be controversial, so here we include a representative example at each end of the emotion spectrum.

I try to be conservative when it comes to Window Shopping analytics, because players can fail and fail for a variety of reasons, even with a track record of a lot of potential. Let’s forget that when it comes to Bellingham. Here he is a teenager who is not only suitable for his age, but also amazing For any age indeed. He has the physical and mental tools to be a star in one or two seasons, not three to five. Its versatility makes it a good fit for any team in the world, and the space it has to grow it may make it even more valuable than it already is. If I had a huge budget and free rein to sign any player in Europe, I would have to look long and hard for a better player than Bellingham now. For these reasons, Judd Bellingham has a score of 99.9 on the Defector Boom/Bust Scale.

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