Birmingham City legend Trevor Francis has urged Jude Bellingham to re-join the Championship club on loan if he moves to Manchester United or Chelsea this summer.
Bellingham is yet to reach the age of 17, but has already established himself as a key player for Birmingham, impressing on multiple occasions in his first season in senior football.
The midfielder has made more than 30 appearances already, and has been invited to Manchester United’s training ground and introduced to Sir Alex Ferguson as the Red Devils have begun taking steps towards providing him a bigger platform from which to shine.
Chelsea are also interested in giving him an opportunity in the Premier League, while Borussia Dortmund want to take him to Germany – but Man Utd think they have the plan to win the race for his signature.
However, former Birmingham hero Francis – the first £1m British footballer – believes Bellingham can only continue to develop if he is allowed to return to Birmingham.
“Wherever Jude Bellingham goes I think he should have it written in the contract that he immediately goes back to Birmingham City to play as a loan player,” he told the Birmingham Mail, “because he has got to improve and the only way he is going to improve is by playing regularly.
“To go to Manchester United or Chelsea or wherever it may be, with respect to the lad he is not going to be a regular in the first team and he needs to be playing regular first team football to improve as a footballer.
“I think he is a very talented young man; I sound like Brian Clough saying that don’t I?
“For his age he has shown a lot of maturity when I have watched him. I think he is blessed with great individual talent.
“I am not exactly sure at this moment what his best position is but then again I think his manager would probably say exactly the same, but he is just a natural footballer who I think is capable of playing in any kind of position.”
Previous reports have indicated that Man Utd believe Bellingham is capable of gaining first team opportunities at Old Trafford, but the teenager may take note of Francis’ advice if he feels he could get even more chances at his current club.