The Jude Bellingham transfer saga could end sooner than expected after a star close to the player’s family let slip who he thinks his next club will be.
The England star – still just 19 – will be one of the world’s most in-demand players when the summer window officially opens for business. He has come of age in his three seasons at Borussia Dortmund, developing into an elite all-round midfielder.
Despite his tender years, Bellingham has amassed 127 appearances for the Bundesliga side, with 25 Champions League games to his name.
Incredibly, he has also worn his club’s captain’s armband on occasions this season, illustrating how highly he is rated. Add to the mix the 10 goals and six assists he has to his name this season, it is easy to see why demand is so high.
Understandably, Borussia Dortmund are placing a substantial fee on their player’s head. And by widespread reports, they would be seeking a fee that may top €150m (£132m) if they are to part with his services.
For a long time it has been Liverpool leading that chase. However, the sheer scale of the rebuilding job at Anfield – together with the finances involved around the deal – means they are no longer contenders. To that end, Jurgen Klopp has responded to claims the Reds are no longer in the transfer frame.
However, their decision means an opportunity is there to pounce for a number of other top sides.
And it seems the transfer door now is ajar for Manchester City and Manchester United to compete for his signature.
However, any club looking to pounce will need to consider the likely costs of the total Bellingham package.
Jude Bellingham transfer race may soon have an answer
Weighing up where he will end up next, his former teammate Troy Deeney has given an insight into Bellingham’s mindset.
And while he thinks both Manchester City and Manchester United will be tempting, he is adamant there can be only one winner.
Deeney never actually played with Bellingham at Birmingham, but knows his family well and is a teammate of his brother Jobe.
Writing in his column for The Sun, Deeney is adamant that Bellingham will only move to one club this summer.
“For me, the Santiago Bernabeu is his most likely destination,” he said.
“I watched Real against Chelsea on Wednesday and it was no more than a six or seven out of 10 performance by the ridiculously high standards of the 14-time European champions.
“But even then, players like Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior made your jaw drop at times.
“Real Madrid are regenerating their midfield – the wonderful Modric is 37 now, Toni Kroos, at 33, has openly talked about retiring this summer, and Casemiro has already moved on to Manchester United.”
Deeney believes Bellingham would fit in at Real Madrid and has identified the four stars he would relish playing alongside.
“They have some wonderful young players. They have the likes of 20-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde, 24, Rodrygo and of course Vinicius – both 22.
“I’m sure Jude would love to be part of that. What an opportunity for him it would be.”
Bellingham will not be be phased joining Real Madrid
Deeney is adamant that Bellingham has the mindset to succeed at a huge club like Real Madrid.
“Having been at Dortmund since he was 16, he is used to living and playing abroad.
“Going to Madrid will not be as daunting for him as it would be for a young English player moving straight from a Premier League club.
“Not that anything seems to faze Jude, anyway. I think going to Germany at such a young age has been the making of him.
“That formative experience is what will help turn him into a genuine world great.
“I know the family, Jude’s brother Jobe is a team-mate of mine. And I know the move had some challenges for them in the early days. But it was the right decision to go to the Bundesliga. And it has paid off handsomely.
“I am convinced he will captain England and whichever teams he plays for.
“He’s already skippered Dortmund and they are a massive club with a passionate fanbase.”
Real could finance any deal by cashing in on a player who is now seemingly back on Liverpool’s radar.