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Jude Bellingham's rise is unstoppable and Liverpool may be his next stage

The £100million price tag on a wonder-kid who could be the next big star in world football will almost certainly be paid next summer.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06: Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund and Zeca of FC Kobenhavn battle for the Ball during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Copenhagen at Signal Iduna Park on September 6, 2022 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Joachim Bywaletz/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)© DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Kevin PalmerSunday World

WHEN Birmingham City announced they were retiring their No.22 jersey in honour of the departing Jude Bellingham in the summer of 2021, the howls of derision echoed across the game.

While there was an appreciation of the potential Bellingham possessed as he made a move to Borussia Dortmund for around £25million, the notion that such a tribute should be afforded to a 17-year-old after one season in the Birmingham first team seemed indulgent.

He may have become Birmingham City's youngest ever first-team player – at the age of 16 years, 38 days - when he started the EFL Cup first round visit to Portsmouth.

He also became the club's youngest ever goal-scorer, at the age of 16 years and 63 days, when he scored the winning goal against Stoke City.

Yet shirt retirements tend to reserved for unique talents or players who pass away prematurely, with Birmingham’s gesture to Bellingham appearing to be more than a little extravagant.

Roll the clock forward to next Wednesday night at the Etihad Stadium and Bellingham may now be in a position to highlight why Birmingham officials believed they had witnessed the start of a career that will leave a lasting mark on the game around the world.

Manchester City will welcome Dortmund to their home stadium for an enticing Champions League tie that wills see Erling Haaland take on the team he left last summer, yet Bellingham’s contribution will be monitored as much as that of City’s super-striker.

Bellingham, now 19, is widely hailed as the best young talent in European football, with Real Madrid and Liverpool making little secret of their admiration for a player who has justified his decision to more to Dortmund time and again.

Manchester United were also in the mix to sign Bellingham when he opted to join Dortmund and he explains why he opted to leave his homeland to build the next phase of his career in Germany.

"I just think the way Dortmund integrates young players into the first-team squad is next level,” explained the impressively mature Bellingham.

“There is not a club in Europe that does it quite like them. The way they are pushed and can also be reeled back in.

“They can review your performances. There is a person there for every player who has worked with the young players. Everyone has that support system to work for their chance in the first team.

“Man United have a great squad. And my decision had nothing to do with money. And I was so focused and so happy with the interest from Dortmund that this became my first choice.

"What I have done here since then has confirmed I made the right decision as I have played a lot of matches and grown in so many ways.”

Dortmund’s policy of only allowing one of their star names to leave each summer ensured they were always going to hang on to Bellingham after Haaland left to join Manchester City.

Yet the £100million price tag on a wonder-kid who could be the next big star in world football will almost certainly be paid next summer.


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