Borussia Dortmund stalwart Mats Hummels has labelled teenage team-mate Jude Bellingham “the most mature 18-year-old player I have ever seen”.
Bellingham has gone from strength to strength since trading Birmingham for the Ruhr Valley last summer, firmly establishing himself as a first-teamer at the Westfalenstadion, particularly this season where he has started every single game in all competitions.
The eight-capped England international relocated from the Championship last year with huge expectations on his shoulders, emulating a similar path Jadon Sancho took from Manchester City to BVB, but he has acclimatised superbly to the tempo of the German top flight.
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Having seen his No. 22 shirt retired at St Andrew’s after just one full season in the Birmingham first team, and a £25m price tag placed above his head, the pressure on Bellingham to succeed in Germany was astronomical, but he has exhibited few — if any — signs of reticence on the pitch.
Having made 46 appearances across all competitions during his maiden campaign at Dortmund, one fraught with dugout instability following the dismissal of Lucien Favre, Bellingham has already started every game this term under new boss Marco Rose, including in the Bundesliga, Champions League, DFB-Pokal and the German Super Cup.
Bellingham is now a regular on the international circuit with England as well and links to the usual Premier League suspects has already started to gain traction, but for now the 18-year-old is continuing to make considerable headway in his still nascent career, much to the delight of Hummels.
He told DAZN: “He is the most mature 18-year-old player I have ever seen. Jude is already someone who leads the way and he’s also one of the loudest in the team.
“He’s a great kid, I think I’ve told him about 25 times now that I just love him.”
Hummels has not been the only experienced dressing-room leader to wax lyrical about the maturity and competence of Bellingham, with Liverpool captain and England team-mate Jordan Henderson recently dishing out the compliments during the recent international break.
“Jude is a fantastic player,” said Henderson. “Even at such a young age, he shows fantastic maturity on and off the field. You can see how hungry he is to be a top player and has all the attributes to do that.
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“I tried to help as much as I could but, to be honest, he is a top player who has shown that in the big games for Dortmund. I see him going from strength to strength all the time.
‘I don’t want to praise him too much and put too much pressure on him but he’s got a very good head on his shoulders.
“I’m told he has good people around him and a good family, and you can see that is an important part of him.
“I think he will be a top player going forward. I watch him for Dortmund and the way he performs is outstanding.”