Transfer Talk: Alarm Bells in Premier League as City close in on Jude
The focus on Jude Bellingham’s future will intensify over the next month as he stars for England at the World Cup.
Still only a teenager, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder is currently one of the most sought after players in world football.
Ahead of Manchester City’s clash with Brentford, we look at whether a move to the Etihad is in his best interests following recent reports.
City in pole position
City are believed to have moved to the front of the queue in the race for Bellingham’s signature.
Liverpool were long thought to be the most likely English club to sign the Birmingham academy graduate, while Real Madrid’s pulling power can never be underestimated.
But following Erling Haaland and Manuel Akanji's arrivals in Manchester last summer, City and Dortmund have retained a strong relationship.
Initial conversations have already taken place and the Premier League champions have now asserted themselves as frontrunners.
A waiting game
But there is still no guarantee that Bellingham will leave Signal Iduna Park in 2023, with a contract that runs until 2025.
He is not expected to see out that deal, but BVB would love to keep their star man and strong performances in Qatar would see his price rise further.
That may play into City’s hands as well though, with Liverpool in desperate need of midfield reinforcements.
Pep Guardiola’s side continued dominance means they can afford to wait until the 17-cap international is available for a more reasonable fee.
Guardiola, unsurprisingly, is a huge fan of Bellingham, who has come up against City in the Champions League in two of the past three seasons.
The Catalan coach recently said: "He was 17 when he arrived but it was not just about his quality, how he was leading, his kicking, going to the referee.
"This guy was something special in terms of his mentality. Now he is 19 and he is already one of the captains.
"The quality, everybody knows it. The whole package is really good."
A little bit of everything
A quick look at Bellingham’s numbers this season show he is not like any player on City’s books.
In terms of goals (0.21 per 90 minutes), shots (2.21 per 90), shots on and off target (both 0.86 per 90), he is similar to Ilkay Gundogan.
But he attacks opponents more than any City player other than Jack Grealish, who boasts 3.36 take-ons per game.
His defensive side is equally impressive with Rodri the only midfielder coming close to his numbers — and the youngster has averaged more tackles and interceptions than the Spaniard in the league this term.
Unsurprisingly, in a Dortmund team no way near as dominant as City, he averages a lot fewer passes and touches than midfielders at the Etihad.
But what is clear is that Bellingham would be another scary addition to City’s armoury — and possesses attributes none of the Citizens' midfielders do.
The best is yet to come
Ex-England and Manchester United ace Rio Ferdinand recently said: "I think he [Bellingham] improves every team in the world, he’s that good.
"For young players aspiring to become footballers, you’ve got to understand that, your attitude and mentality play such a big part of that.
"There’s a process to go through and that comes from mindset, mentality, dedication and talent but the mentality and mindset are huge."
Bellingham's arrival at the Etihad would be bad news for every other Premier League club as the City juggernaut carries on rolling.
But the Three Lions starlet would only improve under the tutelage of Guardiola and that is exciting news for every England fan dreaming of major tournament glory in the coming years.