Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what decision Jude Bellingham makes.
This may seem like a strange thing to start an article with when you consider the headline of the article suggests there is a right decision.
But such is Bellingham’s obscene talent, it feels that no matter which club he decides to make his next step after Borussia Dortmund he will be a success and looks poised to be one of, if not the best, midfielders in the world for the next 10-15 years.
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Now, of course, things can change and go wrong very quickly when you are talking about a player at the start of his career, but Bellingham, like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, does feel truly special.
Since joining Dortmund in 2020 Bellingham has already made 102 appearances for the club, 69 coming in the league and a further 21 in Europe. Last Saturday he became the youngest ever captain in the Bundesliga’s history and this Saturday he will lead out his team in Der Klassiker the monument clash against all-conquering Bayern Munich. He should be a key cog of an England team that will look to get to the latter stages of the World Cup next month.
And he won’t turn 20 until next June.
Like Jadon Sancho and Haaland (as well as countless others) before him, Bellingham will not spend the rest of his career with Dortmund. In fact, it is practically guaranteed that he will leave at the end of the season, with the club wanting to hold on to him for the summer just gone after losing Haaland to Manchester City.
With no similar release clause in Bellingham’s contract, they will be hoping for a blockbuster fee, perhaps as high as £150 million, although reports being that high may well turn out to be premature.
But who will be the team paying that fee? For a long time Liverpool seemed to be the frontrunners, and their failure to sign a new midfielder until a desperate move for Arthur Melo would appear to suggest they were keeping a spot open for someone. City and Pep Guardiola also remain a massive pull, particularly given the way Haaland has taken to life in England. Chelsea, backed by new owner Todd Boehly are also an option.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 05: Karim Adeyemi of Borussia Dortmund celebrates with teammate Jude Bellingham after scoring their team's third goal during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Sevilla FC and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Ramon Sanchez

Image credit: Eurosport

However there is one more option. An omnipresence if you will. Always there, patiently waiting, whenever a superstar is on the market.
Yes, reports recently have begun to solidify that defending European champions Real Madrid will be very much involved in the race for Bellingham.
On the face of it, this might seem weird. Madrid just spent €80m for Aurelien Tchouameni and already possess Eduardo Camavinga. Plus Luka Modric seems to be completely ageless, and that’s not to mention Federico Valverde.
But there will be space. Modric eventually will have to retire (in theory) and it seems very likely that Toni Kroos will leave the club next summer, either to return to Germany or retire from football completely. With Valverde seeming to thrive in a hybrid role there will be space for another midfielder.

Jude Bellingham

Image credit: Getty Images

That’s where Bellingham comes in. Alongside Camavinga and Tchouameni he could form a midfield trio that could end up rivalling the best to ever do it, and that includes the legendary triumvirate they would be replacing.
Tchouameni has already established himself as the perfect successor to Casemiro, a brilliant sitter who knows when to push forward and when to hold with impeccable timing. Camavinga is poetry in motion with the ball at his feet, he effortless glides past players and moves Madrid up the pitch.
And Bellingham? He is the spark. He can be anything that is required according to how a match is going. Playing against a defensive team? Bellingham has the dribbling and passing skills to unlock them. Facing a possession-orientated team? Bellingham has the engine and tackling skills to disrupt them. Playing in the Champions League final? Bellingham has shown he has the character where he rises, not falls, when the lights are on and it’s the biggest moment.
Real Madrid may well be the toughest environment in world football in terms of media scrutiny, pressure from the fans and the glitz and glamour both on and off the pitch. But if you can harness it, the rewards can be immense. Kroos and Modric went from star midfielders to global megastars. Casemiro, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo came straight from Brazil and straight into the spotlight. Pretty much everyone of Real Madrid’s players is in the conversation of being the best in the world in their position. Iron sharpens iron am I right? Bellingham can already make the case as to being one of the best midfielders in the world, if he joins Real Madrid you would expect him to quickly make sure there is no doubt based on the development of other players in his position at that club. Learning under Carlo Ancelotti (at least temporarily) won’t hurt either.

Aurélien Tchouameni- Real Madrid 2022

Image credit: Getty Images

But wouldn’t he learn under Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola too? Yes of course, Kevin De Bruyne’s evolution is perhaps the best example here. But this comes back to what we said at the start, ultimately there is no wrong choice. Even if you have concerns over when both Guardiola and Klopp will step aside, and the ageing squad at Anfield, Bellingham is that good that he will undeniably be a success at Liverpool and City as well. In Klopp’s system you’d imagine he’d be the heartbeat of the team whilst at City he would be the facilitator, making everything tick to allow creators such as De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Joao Cancelo to do their stuff.
Yet somehow it feels different when you consider him at Madrid. And perhaps the reason Bellingham should pick Real Madrid being “a feeling” is a touch disappointing to some. But that is what happens when your club has won more European cups than any and has half of the Champions League titles in the past decade. There is something about this club.
Madrid elevate their stars like few others and more so than either Liverpool or City (or really any other club for that matter) they appear to have their future all mapped up. Eder Militao, Tchouameni, Valverde, Camavinga, Vinicius and Rodrygo are all aged 25 or under. Thibaut Courtois is still just 30 (which is young for a goalkeeper), whilst Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy are all either 30 or younger. Madrid aren’t going anywhere, this is a core that is built to win over the next decade. And who would bet against them adding either Mbappe or Haaland in the next few years? It doesn’t feel impossible does it?
Despite the riches of the Premier League, Real Madrid will always play in a slightly different league. It’s just how it is. There are few players off limit for Florentino Perez. Why not be part of that? The chance for immortalisation is right there. We won’t know until next summer but every game Bellingham plays between now will have fans across the globe watching eagerly. The next chapter is this Saturday against Bayern.
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