Chelsea showdown will fire starting gun in race to sign Jude Bellingham

Football’s biggest spenders meet the game’s most sought-after young star when Borussia Dortmund visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea have invested more than £500million in players this season and it is likely they would have to spend at least a fifth of that again to land Jude Bellingham this summer.

If Enzo Fernandez reset the market for young central midfielders with his £106.8million move to west London in January, how much will it take to secure Bellingham, a player who has starred at a European Championship and a World Cup, regularly captains Dortmund and doesn’t celebrate his 20th birthday until June?

The former Birmingham trainee could yet decide to extend his stay in the Bundesliga into a fourth season –his contract runs until 2025 and there is no buy-out clause – but the path travelled by Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland suggests the German club will cash in on another young starlet this summer, with the bidding expected to reach around £130m.

Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have all been heavily linked with the teenager but where, if anywhere, is he most likely to go?

Liverpool have led Bellingham’s queue of admirers for some time, with Jurgen Klopp’s refusal to buy the wrong midfielder at the wrong time last summer interpreted as a sign Anfield’s powerbrokers were biding their time and waiting for Bellingham.

But patience may not be a virtue if a season spent with a patchwork midfield running on fumes costs Liverpool Champions League qualification.

Klopp’s links to Dortmund could work in their favour but if Liverpool can’t offer European football at the highest level, is Bellingham likely to be persuaded to move to Anfield?

Beating Manchester United 7-0 may have helped their chances, though, especially given Bellingham’s ‘liking’ of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s post after the game fuelling speculation Merseyside is his preferred destination.

Madrid have also been a constant in the Bellingham stakes with the European champions gradually replacing the fabled midfield trio of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos.

  • Have your say – vote here on who you think Jude Bellingham should play

The Spanish champions spent big on Aurelien Tchouameni, 23, last summer and his France team-mate Eduardo Camavinga, 20, continues to emerge.

Add Bellingham and Madrid could have a settled, world-class midfield in place for a decade. But do they push their resources elsewhere?

This is Madrid, where glamour is king – and Karim Benzema is 36. With around £70m spent on Tchouameni, the Bernabeu brass may decide to spend big on a replacement for their talismanic striker, rather than add the finishing touches in midfield.

A move to Manchester United would have seemed unlikely six months ago, but with the Carabao Cup in their back pocket and Champions League qualification almost certain to follow, picturing Bellingham in the same colours as Sancho again is not so fanciful.

United’s pedigree would be a factor for anyone who grew up in England – even if Bellingham was just nine the last time the Premier League title went to Old Trafford – and there could soon be new owners in place keen to make a marquee signing.

Across Manchester another Dortmund old boy would like a reunion with Bellingham. The prolific Haaland may have given Manchester City a new dimension in attack but Pep Guardiola will surely look to strengthen in midfield in the next window.

Ilkay Gundogan is out of contract in the summer and, even if talks over an extension come to fruition, the German will turn 33 early next season. Kevin de Bruyne will be 32 in June and Bernardo Silva always seems to have one foot out of the door so it would surely be hard for Pep Guardiola to resist a move for someone of Bellingham’s youth, quality and versatility.

Chelsea deserve consideration as one of few clubs with the means to meet Bellingham’s nine-figure fee.

But with their dismal domestic form meaning their chances of Champions League qualification likely ride on winning this year’s competition, they may have to beat Bellingham tonight if he is to join them in the summer.

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Source: Read Full Article