Manchester United thought they had secured a deal to sign Jude Bellingham after positive talks in 2020, club legend Bryan Robson has revealed.
Bellingham is currently one of the best young midfielders in world football, starring for both Borussia Dortmund and England. In the Bundesliga this season, the teenager has completed 109 passes in the final third, the second-highest number in the division behind only Joshua Kimmich. He has also had 537 touches of the ball (the sixth-most in the Bundesliga but second for a midfielder), completed more take-ons than any other player (21) and made 20 tackles – the fourth most in the league.
In the Champions League, Bellingham has flexed his attacking muscles slightly more with two goals in two matches, scoring against both FC Copenhagen and Manchester City and helping his side stand firm against the latter only losing to two wonderful strikes from John Stones and Erling Haaland.
There are calls for Gareth Southgate to make Bellingham one of his guaranteed starters for England at the World Cup this winter, part of a more controlling and attacking midfield alongside the holding Declan Rice. And there is also a lot of interest surrounding Bellingham’s future, with the Englishman linked heavily with a return to England, Liverpool being the favoured destination.
|Jude Bellingham transfer specials: To sign for before 3rd February 2023
You have to be 18+ to gamble. UK only. All odds within this article are accurate at the time of writing (13:15, 20/09/2022). Be Gamble Aware.
However, things could have been so much different. Dortmund signed Bellingham from Birmingham City in 2020, a departure that led to the Midlands club retiring his No.22 shirt, in homage to the journey he had in becoming their youngest-ever player and goalscorer.
That summer a lot of teams were chasing Bellingham’s signature too, including clubs in England and Manchester United were one of them. According to club legend Robson, the Red Devils even had talks with Jude and his family, and felt they had a deal agreed only to see him join Dortmund.
“Unfortunately for us he decided to move to Germany,” Robson told The Sun.
“We thought we more or less had him. Myself, Sir Alex and Eric Cantona all met him with his mum and dad at Carrington and after that meeting we thought he was coming to us.
“Now there is talk about him moving next summer and you see Liverpool mentioned a lot. We thought we had him and he would have been a great signing for us. But he definitely has it in him to become a great player for England.”
Robson also spoke of Bellingham’s place in the England squad and a potential partnership alongside Rice, which many fans are dreaming of.
“Declan Rice is a given as an England holding midfielder — he’s so solid and reliable. Depending on how Gareth Southgate wants to play, Bellingham could have a role alongside him,” he added.
“What’s sure is that Gareth has had Bellingham on his radar for some time now — he started playing him when he was still 17. Now he’s got 15 caps and we have the two games coming up against Italy and Germany.
“It would be natural to think that Gareth will maintain that progress with him heading into the finals.”