A tour of Old Trafford with Sir Alex Ferguson, a retired shirt number aged 17 and a ringing endorsement from Lionel Messi – How Jude Bellingham has got Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City vying for his signature

    Few players have endured a quicker rise to superstardom than England star Jude Bellingham who is set for his first taste of World Cup action.

    The Borussia Dortmund star has set the Bundesliga and Champions League alight this season with a number of dazzling displays to help the German giants stay on the heels of Bayern Munich.

    Jude Bellingham is being tracked by European football’s powerhouses

    Getty

    Jude Bellingham is being tracked by European football’s powerhouses

    And now European football’s big boys are circling as a highly-anticipated bidding war is set to ensue next summer for one of world football’s brightest stars.

    Manchester United, Manchester City and long-term admirers Liverpool are all ready to do what it takes to prise the England international away from Signal Iduna Park, while Real Madrid want to add him to a midfield with Aurelien Tchouaméni, Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde.

    The 19-year-old has netted four times in six Champions League games and his exploits have landed him and his teammates a meeting with Chelsea in the Round of 16 next February.

    But before Europe’s Premier club competition returns, the small matter of the World Cup is firmly in his sights and inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s final 26-man squad would cap off an incredible 2022 for the Stourbridge native.

    Representing the Three Lions at a World Cup was merely a pipe dream when Bellingham burst onto the scene at Birmingham City in 2019 becoming the Blues’ youngest-ever player at 16 years, 38 days.

    Such was his immediate impact, Sir Alex Ferguson invited Bellingham and his family to visit Old Trafford in 2020 as the Red Devils looked to steal his signature.

    Former Manchester Unite skipper Bryan Robson was left impressed by Bellingham

    Former Manchester Unite skipper Bryan Robson was left impressed by Bellingham

    If meeting arguably the greatest coach in football history wasn’t enough, former United skipper Bryan Robson and club legend Eric Cantona were also part of the welcome committee.

    “Unfortunately for us he decided to move to Germany. We thought we more or less had him,” Robson told The Sun in September.

    “Myself, Sir Alex and Eric Cantona all met him with his mum and dad at Carrington and after that meeting we thought he was coming to us.

    “We thought we had him and he would have been a great signing for us. But he definitely has it in him to become a great player for England.”

    Sir Alex Ferguson met with Bellingham and his family in 2020

    Getty

    Sir Alex Ferguson met with Bellingham and his family in 2020

    Despite the red carpet treatment, Bellingham stuck to his guns and opted for a switch to Dortmund after being impressed by the club’s record of utilising young players in the first team.

    Dortmund paid Birmingham City an initial £25million in the summer of 2020 to make him the most expensive 17-year-old in history.

    As a result, Birmingham made the bold decision to retire Bellingham’s number 22 shirt – a move that copped the Midlands side plenty of ridicule.

    But Birmingham knew better than anyone else the capabilities of their academy graduate who now has the world at his feet.

    Bellingham came through the ranks at Birmingham and became the club’s youngest-ever player

    Bellingham came through the ranks at Birmingham and became the club’s youngest-ever player

    Bellingham has continued to break records, becoming the youngest-ever goalscorer for Dortmund when he netted in their 5-0 German Cup win over MSV Duisburg – aged 17 years, 77 days.

    He subsequently became the youngest Dortmund player to play in a Champions League fixture when he featured against Lazio at the age of 17 years and 113 days.

    Southgate handed Bellingham his first call up to the England senior squad making his debut in a friendly against Republic of Ireland at Wembley in November 2020 to become England’s third-youngest full international.

    He then became the youngest Englishman to play at any major tournament when he featured in the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 opener against Croatia in June 2021.

    Bellingham has earned 17 caps for England and looks a certainty for the World Cup squad

    AFP

    Bellingham has earned 17 caps for England and looks a certainty for the World Cup squad

    Last month he was on the four-man shortlist for the prestigious Golden Boy award, which recognises the best talent under the age of 21 playing in Europe’s top league by UEFA coefficient.

    Bellingham joined teammate Jamal Musiala, Eduardo Camavinga onto the final list with Barcelona’s Gavi eventually scooping the prize.

    Despite missing out on the gong, Bellingham can comfort knowing that Lionel Messi voted for him as one of the world’s best rising stars.

    Fast forward to November 2022 and Bellingham is a shoe-in for Southgate’s World Cup Squad.

    England boss Gareth Southgate could unleash Bellingham in the opening group game against Iran

    Getty

    England boss Gareth Southgate could unleash Bellingham in the opening group game against Iran

    His form this season has warranted a starting berth for England opener against Iran on November 21.

    A strong World Cup showing can only play favourably into Bellingham’s hands as he faces a decision around his future in the coming months.

    As for Dortmund and their policy of nurturing young talent to sell on at higher fees – Bellingham could be the one to eclipse their record sale should he continue his upward trajectory.

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