17-year-old sensation Jude Bellingham has recently joined European giant Borussia Dortmund for a reported £20.7 million. Despite his age, he was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United after impressive performances with boyhood club Birmingham City. Many have been questioning Dortmund’s decision to spend over £20 million on a player that has made only 41 appearances in England’s second tier, nine of which were substitute appearances. What can Bellingham bring to the Westfalenstadion?
Jude has played in numerous positions. He has played on either flank, at defensive midfield, attacking midfield and even as a striker however, he is predominantly a central midfielder. This versatility will allow him to pick up extra minutes for Borussia Dortmund.
When he plays in his preferred position, he likes to drift out wide. This allows him to combine with the wingers and supporting fullbacks. Despite occupying space in the wide areas, he frequently is found in tight spaces, this allows him to demonstrate his full skill set. Jude has quick feet, as highlighted by his dribble success rate of 57.9%, this is incredible for such a young player, but he also draws 1.4 fouls a game. Jude also plays short, sharp passes to help emerge from tight spaces which is why his pass success rate is lower than expected for a midfielder, 74.9%. In a team like Dortmund, his side would have more possession so he wouldn’t always be attempting risky passes so this would likely increase along with his passes per game which currently sit at a disappointing 24.
Bellingham is also adept to tricking his opponents. This can see him drop a shoulder before darting in the opposite direction to shake off a marker or draw the opposition in and draw a challenge before swiftly giving the ball to a teammate. An example of the latter is during the win at Bristol City on the 7th of February when he drew four players in and got a nudge off Niclas Eliasson. Despite being off balance, Bellingham released Lukas Jutkiewicz down the left-hand side for a counter attack.
In a similar vein to Bruno Fernandes, Jude Bellingham isn’t afraid to try things. He likes to play the ball forward when he can to get his team on the front foot which the Dortmund fans will like. His inexperience and potential overconfidence, which most young players have, won’t be a problem in Germany. Die Schwarzgelben have a track record of helping young players flourish, in a short space of time his overconfidence will go and over time he will be given more experience and responsibility on and off the pitch.
Despite the extra confidence and youth, Jude isn’t afraid to do the dirty work. He couples 2.2 tackles with 0.7 interceptions which shows he likes to press opposition. The former Birmingham City starlet is only dribbled past 0.9 times per game, this gives him a tackle success rate of 71%, only 4% of Virgil Van Dijk. The ability to press and forward passes emphasises what a forward-thinking player he is, something at times Borussia Dortmund have lacked under Lucien Favre.
His constant hunger for the ball, brave in possession and ability to get out of tricky and tight situations hints at a very promising player brimming with confidence. Along with this and his versatility saw him chased by some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
He looks best as a number 8 or playing a tucked in winger which would suit ralph hasenhuettl’s 4-2-2-2. However, due to his stats and abilities, he would also suit a number 10 especially in a 4-2-3-1.
It is clear he is using Borussia Dortmund as a steppingstone club, like most young players that go there do, but Die Borussen won’t mind as they will no doubt turn a healthy profit on him.