England travel to San Marino on Monday night in need of just one point to confirm their place as group winners and therefore seal qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
A 5-0 win over Albania on Friday all but secured their place in next winter’s tournament, with Harry Kane grabbing a hat-trick to go with Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson’s goals in the first half for a dominant win.
But for Monday’s game Gareth Southgate will be forced to make changes. Luke Shaw and Mason Mount have been ruled out with injuries, while Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling have all been released from duty early.
Crystal Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher has been called up from the Under-21’s as extra cover, but will he go straight into the starting lineup for the game? Here is the team I think should start.
Jordan Pickford is still the number one for England and Southgate, but with Ramsdale’s current form he deserves a start in a game like this where he’s unlikely to be tested much, if at all.
Trent Alexander Arnold
The Liverpool man has been in excellent form for his club side this season but he was a substitute in the game against Albania on Friday where both Reece James and Kyle Walker started. He’ll get the nod and likely chip in with a goal contribution too.
Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings
Southgate has tended to rotate his centre-backs for these games against the more lowly opposition and it doesn’t get more lowly than San Marino, so expect both Coady and Mings to get the nod in this one.
England’s only fit left-back in the squad following Shaw’s withdrawal with concussion, Chilwell is sure to start once again. His good performances in attack will surely lead to chances
Bellingham has been a regular starter for Dortmund and despite only being 18 is one of the most talented footballers in the entire squad. Great in possession, physically imposing and technically astute he’ll have an absolute field day in this game and should start.
Southgate seems likely to stick with Phillips for this game following the withdrawals of James Ward-Prowse, Henderson and Declan Rice since the announcement of the squad. With Gallagher getting a late call up, he’ll likely start on the bench meaning Phillips starts again.
Saka has shone in an England shirt for the most part of his international career, so selection here will likely see him continue that. With Sterling leaving the squad early, Saka should get the nod and will probably get a goal or assist (or both) in a big win.
Emile Smith Rowe
The first time call-up, Smith Rowe made his debut as a substitute against Albania and should now get a start with Jack Grealish unavailable for the game after returning to Man City. His ability to dribble in tight spaces will help create chances, and in his current form he could well get his first goal for England.
The key to the future for England, Foden is essential in any success the team will have and he’ll start here and be the main man when it comes to creating chances.
The likelihood is Tammy Abraham will start this game, but captain Kane should be given the chance to add to his tally for the year. Kane has 12 goals for England in 2021 and broke Wayne Rooney’s record of 37 competitive goals against Albania. He’s only ten goals away from overtaking him on the overall table as England’s highest goalscorer ever, and he can make up some ground in this game even if only given 60 minutes or so.
England are back in World Cup qualifying action against Albania on Friday night at Wembley, where a win will confirm their place in Qatar next year.
Gareth Southgate’s side currently sit top of their group with two games remaining, three points ahead of Poland and five ahead of Albania.
Only group winners are guaranteed a place in Qatar 2022, while runners-up will have to go through a play-off to make it. It makes bouncing back from last month’s draw with Hungary all the more important. But who should start the game? This is our England lineup.
GK: Jordan Pickford
England’s number one has been under pressure recently because of the form of Aaron Ramsdale at Arsenal, but he’s been performing worse than this and kept his place so I’d expect him to get the nod once again.
RB: Reece James
No Chelsea player has been involved in more goals directly than James this season and he has proven his worth in both directions with some excellent defensive displays too. He has stiff competition with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker, but his performances deserve a start.
CB: John Stones
Stones has been a mainstay for Southgate whenever fit and despite having some fitness issues this season again, when he has played he’s been excellent. He’s claimed his City starting place back too, so should continue for England.
CB: Harry Maguire
Maguire arguably shouldn’t even be in the squad this time around if we’re going based on form, but the fact he is means he’ll start. His competition for places is Tyrone Mings who recently lost his place at Villa and Conor Coady who has never really impressed, so it’s a no-brainer really.
LB: Ben Chilwell
Chilwell lost his place as England’s first-choice left-back last year after Luke Shaw’s resurgence, but this season they’ve reverted to type and Chilwell has been flying. He’s been great going forward and defensively solid, so he deserves the starting spot.
DM: Declan Rice
England’s most in-form central midfielder this season, Rice has become indispensable to West Ham and the national team. His ability to win the ball back is unmatched in the squad, he has become a leader and is constantly improving on the ball so he should start here.
CM: Phil Foden
Southgate has previously featured Foden out wide mostly, but this special footballer should be playing centrally. A magician on the ball with great ball manipulation, a killer pass and an eye for goal, get him in the heart of the game to effect games and watch him shine.
CM: Jude Bellingham
Another superstar youngster, Bellingham has firmly established himself as one of the best young midfielders in the game. A regular starter with Dortmund, Bellingham’s skillset is so diverse that he can play any midfield role with ease and would offer the perfect balance alongside Rice and Foden.
RW: Raheem Sterling
Sterling’s season hasn’t gone to plan after Euro 2020, but his spot with England is pretty much guaranteed. He ended a goal drought for City recently and as a key part of Southgate’s England team, he will start on the right wing.
ST: Harry Kane
Another Harry who can count himself lucky that the England squad isn’t simply decided based on form, because if it was the captain would certainly not be involved. But since he is, and he’s the skipper and his record for England is so good, he’ll start and probably score to help them qualify.
LW: Jack Grealish
Grealish’s move to man City has certainly helped establish him as an England regular, but Marcus Rashford’s injury issues have helped him become a starter too. Rashford has withdrawn from the squad, leaving Grealish as the best and most senior option to play from the left so that’s what he’ll do.
It’s been a while since England had a bunch of successful talents in their squad that were playing abroad at the same time.
It’s possible that it’s never even been a thing in all honesty but the current squad is full of players who have made a name for themselves outside of the Premier League’s four walls.
Kieran Trippier, Fikayo Tomori, Jadon Sancho and Tammy Abraham are all involved in the England squad for upcoming internationals against Andorra and Hungary.
Each of the four have spent time outside of the Premier League refining their game and becoming key members of squads in Europe, although Sancho has obviously since returned to England with Manchester United this summer.
It used to be the case that players that were plying their trade abroad were overlooked, with even David Beckham struggling for selection once he left Real Madrid for the MLS and Owen Hargreaves taking far longer than it should have to get a call up when he was at Bayern Munich.
But with a plethora of young talent moving to the Bundesliga in order to secure themselves regular first-team football, manager Gareth Southgate has seemingly welcomed it with open arms.
Jude Bellingham has been a regular in the squad recently despite being only 18, because he has been a key part of Borussia Dortmund’s midfield in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Tomori has shone for AC Milan since joining the club on loan from Chelsea in January last year, and was unlucky not to get a call-up to the Euro 2020 squad with his form.
Trippier has almost solidified his place in the team since joining Atletico Madrid, even becoming a left-back option such is Southgate’s insistence on involving him.
Sancho is in the squad because of the talent he has shown during his time in the Bundesliga after a slow start to life in England, with the boss even admitting that he probably doesn’t deserve the call-up on current form.
Abraham initially missed out on the call, but Southgate added him in later after his excellent start to life in Rome with Jose Mourinho and AS Roma where he has scored four goals and registered two assists in nine appearances so far.
It’s a positive sign from the gaffer and from the international setup now that young players shouldn’t be afraid to go abroad and get game time. In the past they may have been forgotten or overlooked, but not anymore.
If you’re good enough and stand-out enough, you’ll get your recognition at international level.
England face a crunch Euro 2020 final group game against Czech Republic tonight, and only a win will see them qualify as group winners.
A win over Croatia was followed up with a draw against Scotland, meaning that they have four points from two games just like the Czech’s. But with the visitors on Tuesday night having a better goal difference following their 2-0 win over the Scots, a draw would see them win the group ahead of England.
Gareth Southgate will be without Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell for the game after they were forced to self-isolate following close contact with Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for COVID-19 after the England-Scotland game on Friday night.
So who should start the game that England must win to get their tournament really kick-started? This would be my team:
Jordan Pickford (GK)
England’s best available goalkeeper so he should start. Yet to really be tested during the tournament but has kept two clean sheets and his passing and claiming of crosses has been good, so no need to change anything there.
Kyle Walker (RB)
Walker was hot and cold against Croatia but without him against Scotland, England looked stale. His pace is a powerful tool in both directions while his ability on the ball is more than adequate to help build from the back, he’s England best option in the position and should start.
John Stones (CB)
The Manchester City centre-back came closest to breaking the deadlock against Scotland when he headed against the post. That aerial ability has been on show throughout the tournament but also his one-on-one defensive qualities and passing have continued to shine through and he should keep his place.
Harry Maguire (CB)
Manchester United’s captain has yet to kick a ball at this tournament so far and England haven’t conceded a goal yet, but he should come into the side for this one. Defensively he is excellent aerially and as a leader, while also being far better on the ball than Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady. Must start.
Luke Shaw (LB)
Shaw was called into the side for the Scotland game but struggled to make an impact as he wasn’t really allowed to push on too much. That must change in this game if England are to have success and he is the best attacking left-back in the squad. With Chilwell out due to COVID protocols, he must start.
Declan Rice (CM)
Rice is a solid defensive outlet when it comes his midfield role but progressing the ball against a low block defence is not his strongest attribute. With that said, England can’t afford to lose the game and he is comfortably the best defensive midfielder in the squad. He should be in there for added protection but his role should be simple – win the ball back and give it to the more talented players.
Jude Bellingham (CM)
The last thing England need to do in this game is play with two holding midfielders, so it’s the perfect chance for young Bellingham to make his mark on the tournament. More than comfortable in every role as a central midfielder, the 18-year-old would offer terrific balance and some added attacking quality in the final third where needed.
Jadon Sancho (RW)
He’s yet to get his boots dirty in this tournament but Sancho is more than deserving of some action in this tournament now. England have really struggled creatively so far and only Harry Kane had more goal involvements during the last campaign. Sancho has pace, skill, great combination play with passing and has a killer pass and eye for goal so would be the perfect man to bring in to a struggling side.
Jack Grealish (CAM)
It was a surprise that he didn’t start against Croatia and during the 27 minutes he got against Scotland he wasn’t able to do much, but Grealish deserves the nod here. He has the flair and playing style perfectly suited to international football and has shown time and again in an England shirt that he can perform. With Mount unavailable, he’s the obvious choice to step in to the number ten position.
Marcus Rashford (LW)
Raheem Sterling remains the only man to score for England so far in this tournament but his performances have been far from excellent. Marcus Rashford was second in the entire England squad for goal contributions last season (tied with Sancho) and has come on in both games but struggled to get into them. A start here would give him that chance, with his eye for goal and direct style precisely what England have been lacking.
Harry Kane (ST)
As if it was ever in doubt, Southgate has already confirmed that his captain and star striker will start this game. The Tottenham man is yet to even have a shot on target in the tournament but he’s always been a man for the big occasion and there is no bigger stage than now, so expect him to finally make his arrival with a goal in this one.
England look to secure qualification into the round of 16 at the first attempt at Euro 2020 with a win over Scotland in match day 2.
Raheem Sterling’s goal in the second half gave the Three Lions a well deserved 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening game, in a performance that did the country proud.
Manager Gareth Southgate will now need to make some tough decisions in the team against Scotland, with England expected to control possession more and their home nation rivals likely to line up in a very defensive manner.
Does Southgate stick to a winning formula or make some changes to keep everyone in the 26-man squad on their toes and in rhythm? This is the England team that should start against Scotland for us.
Jordan Pickford (GK)
The Everton stopper’s number one shirt was in doubt before the original tournament in 2020 but he kept his shirt for the opener when Nick Pope went down injured and was ruled out of the tournament before the squad was picked.
His position is even further cemented now with Dean Henderson’s withdrawal from the squad, so he is now comfortably the best keeper available and should start.
Kyle Walker (RB)
Walker had a good performance against Croatia in the opening game and with Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson being deployed in a wing-back role, Walker’s pace and strength will be needed to ensure he doesn’t get a free ride out wide all night.
He’s good in possession against low block sides too, with his experience playing for Manchester City and as the best full-back in the squad he deserves to start again.
John Stones (CB)
He was the best fit centre-back England had in the first game and he turned in a performance to back it up too. Great ability on the ball, fantastic aerially in both boxes and a very good one-on-one defender, barring the odd brain fart he gets he’s got the tools to be one of the best England have.
His ability on the ball will see him be key to England building up play from the back and he’ll be a threat at set-pieces too, so he starts again.
Harry Maguire (CB)
He’s missed around a month of action with an ankle ligament injury, but after training for the last week since the Croatia game Maguire is available to play and therefore should start.
Southgate says he will play a part but is unsure of if he’ll start yet, but he’d be better off starting when the intensity is higher to really see if he is fit enough to play. Mings was excellent against Croatia in the opening game so England can trust that they have a solid deputy if needed but it’s the perfect game to give Maguire a start in.
Luke Shaw (LB)
Kieran Trippier got the shock nod at left-back in the opening game, but against a side likely to play a low block stretching the pitch will be key.
That means a natural left footer should play at left-back and Shaw was the best left-back in the country last season and therefore deserves his shot at starting in a major tournament. His partnership at club level with Maguire will be helpful too but his pace and passing going forward will help England unlock the Scottish defence.
Declan Rice (CM)
Gary Neville described Rice as one of the two undroppable players in the England team along with Harry Kane and while I don’t necessarily agree, he is hard to replace.
Quite comfortably the best defensive midfielder England have, Rice’s positioning and tackling go hand-in-hand with his reading of the game and make him a key part of the jigsaw of a Southgate team. He’ll need to be better on the ball in a game like this, with more progressive passes and bravery, but his reliability defensively adds some protection to an otherwise attacking team.
Jude Bellingham (CM)
This will seem harsh to many because of just how good Kalvin Phillips was against Croatia, but this is the type of game where I want someone in a deeper midfield role with more of a natural attacking burst.
Bellingham has the ability to help out defensively where needed but also has a killer pass on him, ability to drive past players and can score goals too. Getting players into a rhythm in case they’re called upon is key for a tournament and Bellingham is good enough to get a start and make a difference.
Raheem Sterling (RW)
Most people didn’t have Sterling starting the opener, but he turned in a great performance where he was the most dangerous attacker and got the only goal of the game.
The confidence he’ll take from that game will be big for the rest of the tournament and he should be allowed to ride that momentum into this game too. Pace, direct running, a great dribbler and excellent movement from out-to-in make him the perfect outlet for England against the Scotland back five and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him score once again.
Mason Mount (CAM)
Ideally I probably wouldn’t play Mount in this game and certainly not in this position, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to start so I’ve included him.
He’s a top player, with an excellent touch and lots of intelligence around the way he moves around the pitch with and without the ball but against Croatia he looked quite flat after a bright start. In a game like this he will need to be at his brilliant best (which is more likely than not to be fair) and his combination play with the front three around him will be key to opening Scotland up.
Jack Grealish (LW)
There was general shock around the exclusion of Grealish from the starting team against Croatia after his performances in the warm-up games, but I expect him to come back into the side here.
Phil Foden got the nod in that game but aside from hitting the post early on he was quite ineffective in the opening game. Grealish’s direct running and ability to slow a game down then flick a switch to up the tempo is exactly what England need in a game such like this, where Scotland will set up deep and look to frustrate them.
Harry Kane (ST)
He starts when he’s fit and available and rightly so. England’s best striker in a long time but also arguably one of the best in the world, he has every type of finish in his arsenal and is also one of the best creators in the squad so you’d be silly to have a team without him in the starting lineup.
Today is the day that Gareth Southgate makes half the nation absolutely ecstatic and the other half furious as he names his England squad for this summer’s European Championships.
UEFA agreed to allow an extra three places in the squad for managers to add following a full campaign of a hectic schedule owing to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 18 months or so.
That should make it a little bit easier to select a squad but there will still be some big names who miss out. While Southgate will name a provisional squad today, I wanted to see just how difficult it is to do and how different people will react, so this is my 26-man England squad for Euro 2020.
Jordan Pickford: The Everton stopper’s place as number one for the national team had come under doubt this season but Southgate has stuck by him for the most part and he will 100% be in the squad.
Dean Henderson: He’s always had great ability and has come through the youth ranks with England. Now as Manchester United’s number one, he has earned his place in the senior England team too.
Sam Johnstone: The third spot was sure to be Nick Pope’s, but the Burnley keeper needs knee surgery and is almost certain to be ruled out of the tournament. That means West Brom keeper Johnstone will get the chance to be part of the squad as the third choice.
Kyle Walker: Quite comfortably the best performing English right-back this season, Walker won the Premier League and is in the Champions League with Manchester City and deserves his spot. He also offers some flexibility if needed, having played as a centre-back at the 2018 World Cup too.
Reece James: A young right-back, James’ season started impeccably and while he didn’t keep that level throughout the season he wasn’t bad. Good going forward and excellent in a one-on-one situation with a great delivery, he deserves a chance.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: The fact his spot in the squad is so in question is bonkers to me. He had a really tough first half of the season and was rightly left out of the last England squad, but since then he has been back to his brilliant best. He’s improved defensively and has an X-factor when going forward that should make him a shoe-in.
Ben Chilwell: Southgate’s first choice left-back for the most part has had a good debut campaign with Chelsea this season and could top it off by winning the Champions League. He’s decent at both ends of the pitch and this is one of the positions where the choices are pretty clear.
Luke Shaw: Quite comfortably the best left-back in the country this season, Shaw has seen an incredible resurgence in his career this season. He’s been fantastic going forward, with a career high of assists this season but also solid defensively and can even fill in as a third centre-back in a back three too so he’s in.
Harry Maguire: England’s best centre-back and a leader at the back, he’s had a very good season for Manchester United. Aerially he is dominant and while he has got a lack of pace, he knows how to play without it for the most part and shines for Southgate so will start so long as he recovers from his ankle injury.
John Stones:Another player who has seen a huge resurgence in their career this season, Man City have a lot to thank Stones for. While Ruben Dias picked up much of the plaudits (and rightly so), Stones shone next to him and his passing ability from the back should see him as a starter alongside Maguire with fitness permitting.
Ezri Konsa: While I don’t expect him to go, Konsa is more than deserving of a spot in the squad after the season he has had. Alongside Tyrone Mings, he has shown a fantastic ability in all aspects of defending as well as playing out from the back and in my eyes has outshone his centre-back partner. He has great pace to cover round and is good on the ball to build from the back too, meaning he’d fit into the squad brilliantly.
Fikayo Tomori: For sure a wildcard pick, but Tomori’s form since his January loan move to AC Milan can’t be ignored. He was brilliant in Serie A and the Europa League and caught the eye of everyone who paid any sort of attention. That means if Southgate was doing his job properly he’d have spotted him too, and he deserves an inclusion based on form and ability over Wolves captain Conor Coady.
Jordan Henderson: Arguably the biggest character in the camp, Henderson is an automatic pick if he’s fit. Great energy, leadership, solid defensively and a decent passing range too, he starts never mind gets included in the squad.
Declan Rice: Potentially the most important piece of the jigsaw in Southgate’s midfield, the West Ham man’s defensive qualities are something that only he brings to the squad. A fantastic tackler with great awareness, he will be key if England get into the latter stages to take on the better teams.
Jude Bellingham: Not many people will have had him down as getting into this squad at the start of the season, but the 17-year-old has been sensational for Borussia Dortmund and earned himself senior minutes earlier in this campaign. He has the ability to fulfil every midfield role and that fearlessness he brings to his game could be huge.
Kalvin Phillips: A fantastic ball playing defensive midfielder, Phillips has been a big part of Southgate’s plans in squads over the last year and he deserves his place in the side as the insurance policy in the centre.
Mason Mount: A real breakthrough campaign this season for Mount, who made himself indispensable for Chelsea and forced his way into the England setup too. Whether it be deeper or slightly more advanced, Mount is almost certain to start and will be included.
Bukayo Saka: The Arsenal man was one of very few bright sparks in a shocking season for the Gunners and his versatility could be absolutely vital for the squad. Able to play as a full-back, wing-back, winger or even central midfielder, he should find that gets him into the squad above anything else.
Jack Grealish: One of the stand-out performers in the Premier League this season prior to his shin injury, Grealish more than deserves his place in the squad. Brilliant ball retention and manipulation, as well as a ball carrier, eye for a pass and top performances for Villa, he has to be in.
Jadon Sancho: Strangely enough there are squads that don’t have Sancho involved and that just makes zero sense to me. A dazzling winger with pace, agility, a brilliant change of direction, goals and assists, he’s performed brilliantly for Dortmund after a slow start and deserves his spot.
Raheem Sterling: After Harry Kane, Sterling is probably the first attacker on the squad list for Southgate and he’s one of them for me too. While his season for Man City was somewhat underwhelming in comparison to previous campaigns, he has goals, assists and brilliant wing play and can play on either side. His quality is high and he’s a must-pick.
Marcus Rashford: The best season of his club career was slowed somewhat by injuries towards the end, but 20+ goals and 15+ assists in all competitions make him a sure-fire pick. He has that X-factor in one on one situations, has brilliant pace and skill, can play across the entire front three and is a good impact sub if he doesn’t start too.
Harry Kane: Well, duh. England’s best player by a distance, Kane is in the squad and I reckon he’ll play every minute of the tournament too.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin: Since Kane will likely play in every game and play most minutes, the secondary striker role is one that likely won’t be used much. Despite that, you need someone who is a presence on the pitch if they are needed and can score a variety of different goals, so the Everton man is the best pick.
Mason Greenwood: A wildcard pick again, but it’s rare that as a manager you have so much quality to choose from and have to leave someone out. But Greenwood’s quality with both feet, whether through the middle or out wide means he absolutely has to be in. There’s nobody I’d rather a chance fell to when I needed a goal outside of Kane and that’s enough to sway me.
England have announced that Jude Bellingham will join up with the senior national team during this international break.
Bellingham, 17, wasn’t initially involved in the squad but after Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse pulled out through injury manager Gareth Southgate has opted to draft in the youngster.
After joining Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Bellingham has featured fairly regularly for the Bundesliga side this season. He has featured in five league games as well as all three Champions League games grabbing an assist in both competitions. He also scored his only goal of the season so far in the DFB Pokal Cup.
The decision to pull him from the Under-21’s squad and place him in the senior side sparked a lot of debate on social media. Some believe that it’s a good decision, with his obvious talent lacking in the senior side anyway. Others believe that the move is too early and unnecessary, with more senior players more deserving of a spot in the squad.
So which is true? The reality is it’s both.
Having completed 90 minutes just once this season for Dortmund, Bellingham wasn’t even under consideration for the senior squad. He was called up to Under-21’s and was expected to feature prevalently during their qualifiers during this break. Instead, he’ll now likely play a handful of minutes at most.
At 17 years old, he is already playing way above his age bracket. Regular minutes at a top side in European football, with Champions League football is already a huge jump up from where a regular 17 year old would be playing their football.
Pushing him into the senior side doesn’t really do anything either. He likely won’t play much and therefore will lose out on development time. We’ve also seen in recent weeks that the media have no problem with making a young player a target in the press.
On the other hand Bellingham will be around older players who are better and more developed than him to help him progress more. He will see how the senior squad do things and will get to start building a relationship with Southgate.
It gives him a chance to make an impression on the management team and the senior players and stake his claim for a position in the squad for Euro 2020 next summer.
While players such as Ross Barkley and James Maddison will feel a way about being overlooked despite the injuries, if they continue to perform to the standard they have been so far this season then Southgate will surely want to take another look at them before he has to make a final decision on his squad.
If Bellingham struggles at the higher level, there’s nothing to prevent him going back down to the Under-21’s in the future too. At the end of the day, he’s been called up because of several players ahead of him in the pecking order being unavailable and Southgate’s policy of replacing them with players in the youth setup rather than elsewhere.
Wherever you stand on the matter, it will no doubt be interesting to see such a talented young player playing at the highest level.
After losing out to Borussia Dortmund for striker Erling Haaland in January, Manchester United could be about to lose another starlet to Germany.
According to reports by ESPN, Birmingham City midfielder Jude Bellingham has decided to move to the Bundesliga over Old Trafford this summer. Borussia Dortmund will reportedly pay a fee of around £20 million for the 16 year old wonderkid.
Manchester United had been strongly linked with a move for Bellingham, with many seeing his transfer as United returning to their previous transfer strategy of snapping up the best of young, British talent. However, his decision to go to Germany instead will be a massive blow to Ole Gunnar Solskjær who reportedly had big plans for him.
While the move is a blow for The Red Devils, it’s not hard to see exactly why Bellingham has made the decision he’s made.
Bellingham will turn 17 years old on June 29th. For someone so young, he has already made 33 league appearances for Birmingham, including 70 minutes in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with West Brom. He literally has the entirety of his career in front of him. There is no rush whatsoever for the big move to come now.
Whilst a club with the size and reputation of Manchester United will undoubtedly be the goal for Bellingham’s career trajectory, it doesn’t have to happen right now. The Old Trafford side currently have central midfield options including Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay and are being linked with Donny Van de Beek and Jack Grealish. Regardless of your thoughts on those midfielders, Bellingham would almost certainly be behind them all in the pecking order. He’s also far too good for U23 level football already.
At Dortmund, he would have seen countless young players make their breakthroughs over the years. Players such as Mario Götze, Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele have made their breakthrough to European elite at Dortmund and they continue to give young players a chance, with 17 year-old Giovani Reyna making his first Bundesliga start this past weekend.
They play an attractive brand of attacking football, score lots of goals, trust youth players and are in the Champions League most seasons – something Manchester United can no longer guarantee. While Bayern Munich have won the last eight consecutive Bundesliga titles, it is Dortmund that always run them closest.
Another thing to consider is that Dortmund are always happy to sell a player if the price is right. While they’ve helped to develop an abundance of talent in their club, they’ve always been willing sellers if the player wants to move on. Robert Lewandowski went to Bayern Munich on a free transfer with Dortmund’s best wishes, Ousmane Dembele was allowed to leave for £135.5 million to Barcelona as a Neymar replacement, Erling Haaland was signed with the agreement in place that a release clause will become active in his contract after his first 18 months are done.
While some may see it as a stepping-stone mentality, Dortmund use it as a way to strengthen their squad repeatedly via generating money but also discovering top talent.
On top of all of that, Bellingham will have far less pressure on his head. A decent sized fee will surely mean he has eyes on him, but at 17 years old most of Germany will know he isn’t the finished article. Signing for a club like Manchester United at that age, if he doesn’t hit the ground running he’ll instantly be seen as a flop.
For Bellingham he goes to a club where he’ll play more, with less pressure, in a team that attacks constantly and scores a bucket load of goals. He’ll play next to top players, in a top league, with Champions League football near enough guaranteed every season. He’ll also likely still be a target for Manchester United in years to come if he continues to develop at his current rate and as we’ve already established, Dortmund will have no issue selling up if their price is met.
The world is quite literally at the feet of Jude Bellingham now and he should find comfort in the fact that on the face of it, he’s made the right decision for his career.