The 2022/23 Bundesliga Player of the Season has signed for Real Madrid after a hotly-contested race for his signature between the biggest clubs in world football. Here’s a look at how England international Jude Bellingham will fit in to the Real Madrid midfield, and five things you might not know about the 19-year-old superstar.
After a tumultuous week in which Real Madrid announced the departure of long-established stars such as Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio, the 14-time European champions have announced the first new piece of their rebuilding jigsaw: the signing of highly coveted England international midfielder Jude Bellingham.
19-year-old Bellingham, who lands in LaLiga in a big-money move from German side Borussia Dortmund, has over the past couple of seasons shot to prominence as one of the most sought-after young stars in world football. He joins the LaLiga giants as the recently crowned Bundesliga Player of the Season after a campaign in which he propelled Dortmund to the brink of a first Bundesliga title in over a decade.
A true box-to-box midfielder, Bellingham further adds to Real Madrid’s deep midfield. In the short-term, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have brought an influential presence into the centre of the park to play alongside club legends 37-year-old Luka Modric and 33-year-old Toni Kroos. The hefty investment in Bellingham, however, is with a clear eye on the future. The Birmingham native is an already world-class bridge to lead Los Blancos’ midfield transition from the old guard to a new-look group featuring rising stars such as French internationals Eduardo Camavinga (20) and Aurélien Tchouaméni (23), and Fede Valverde (24).
With Real Madrid set to look very different come the start of the 2023/24 season compared to how they ended 2022/23, here are five things you might not know about the man who the club believe is set to lead their midfield for the coming decade.
He arrives as the Bundesliga Player of the Season
Jude is much more than a prospect; he is already one of the very best players in the world. He completes his transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid as the reigning Bundesliga Player of the Season, having scored eight goals and provided five assists from midfield in 2022/23. He did a lot more than that, covering more distance (322km) than any of his Dortmund teammates last term, while his 482 duels won was the best among all players in the Bundesliga.
Birmingham City retired his shirt number
Jude grew up as a supporter of Birmingham City and joined their academy aged seven. He rapidly rose through the ranks and became the youngest player to ever feature for the English club’s first team, doing so at the age of 16 years and 38 days old. Although he made just 44 appearances for the club before joining Borussia Dortmund in 2020, Birmingham City quickly retired his shirt number of 22. The club explained: “In such a remarkably short space of time, Jude has become an iconic figure at the Blues, showing what can be achieved through talent, hard work and dedication. We decided it would be fitting to retire this number, to remember one of our own and to inspire others.”
His father is a Non-League footballing legend
Football runs in the family as Mark Bellingham, Jude’s father, was once a legend of non-league football in England’s West Midlands region. Playing as a striker, he scored over 700 goals during his non-league career, which clearly helped inspire his sons, given that Jude is now at the most successful club in history and his younger brother Jobe plays for the Birmingham City first team.
Bellingham made history at Borussia Dortmund
After three very successful years in Germany, Bellingham leaves Borussia Dortmund having etched his name in the club’s history books. By scoring on his debut against Duisburg, he became the club’s youngest competitive goalscorer as he was just 17 years and 77 days old. Although teammate Youssoufa Moukoko later overtook him for that record, Bellingham remains the youngest ever Englishman to start a Champions League match, doing so vs Lazio aged 17 years and 113 days. He’ll quickly add to his 23 Champions League appearances at the Bernabéu.
His idols were Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard
When he was growing up, Jude was such a big Birmingham City fan that he would only wear their shirt! However, there were two England internationals who he loved enough to explore other options: Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Bellingham admired both these English legends so much that he began to desire their replica shirts. And now he’s an undisputed England international himself and following in their footsteps.