Most football teams would be delighted with a top-three finish, winning a cup, reaching another cup final, and navigating their way to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, but then most football clubs are not Real Madrid. The Los Blancos are about to head into the post-season on the back of a disappointing season that saw arch-rivals Barcelona lock up the La Liga title with four games to spare.
Head coach Carlo Ancelotti knows his squad, which is aging in key positions, needs some reinforcements during the summer, and he sees English youngster Jude Bellingham as the answer to all of his problems, but is Bellingham the real deal? Does the 19-year-old have what it takes to steer Real Madrid back on course for a 36th La Liga title in 2023-24? Experts are unanimous in saying yes, he is.
Bellingham has long been a target for Real Madrid, and newspaper reports suggest the club has convinced Bellingham to join them. Bellingham’s current club, Borussia Dortmund, wants at least €100 million for their prize asset, and Real Madrid is willing to meet that astronomical asking price. The midfielder is a once-in-a-generation talent, the best midfielder England possesses, and you can bet on the worldcup 2026 will be the Jude Bellingham show.
The Meteoric Rise of Bellingham
Bellingham was part of the Birmingham City youth setup from the age of eight and played for the under-18 team when he was only 14. He made his full Birmingham City debut at 16 years, 38 days old, making him the club’s youngest-ever debutant.
A box-to-box midfielder, Bellingham’s ability defied his tender age, and his performances during his 44 appearances for Birmingham City caught the eye of several of Europe’s top clubs. Borussia Dortmund beat everyone to Bellingham’s signature, and he headed to Germany to continue his development.
To say Bellingham grew in size, stature, and ability during his time with Borussia Dortmund is an understatement. He quickly became the club’s youngest-ever goal scorer, and on October 1, 2022, he captained Dortmund to become the team’s youngest captain in their long and illustrious history.
Bellingham will leave Dortmund having scored 24 goals in 132 games and will forever be fondly remembered by fans of Die Schwarzgelben.
Is Bellingham a Ready-Made Kroos Replacement?
Ancelotti has a wealth of talent at his disposal, particularly in midfield, but Bellingham brings something extra to that key area of the pitch. He is strong defensively, prepared to get stuck into a tackle, and does the dirty work that other Real Madrid players may not be so keen to do. He can run with the ball, has a great range of passes, and chips in with his fair share of goals, too.
Real Madrid let Brazilian hardman Casemiro leave for Manchester United for €70.65 million, a player difficult to replace. The club brought in Aurelien Tchouameni from AS Monaco for €80 million, but he has, so far, failed to live up to his lofty price tag. There is no doubt that Tchouameni is a talented player, but he is no Jude Bellingham.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are arguably the best midfielders on Real Madrid’s books. Modric turns 38 early next season, while Kroos has already made noises about retiring at 33. While Modric and Kroos are incredible players and have been fantastic servants to the Los Blancos, neither is anywhere near as mobile as they once were. Bellingham will bring in fresh legs and athleticism.
With Modric and Kroos entering the twilight of their careers, a midfield trio of Bellingham, Tchouameni, and Federico Valverde is frightening. Young, fit, and strong, it could be the spine of a Madrid team that dominates for years to come.