Football News

“It feels like he’s 30” – Carlo Ancelotti reflects on Jude Bellingham’s start at Real Madrid

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:30, 4 October 2023

Jude Bellingham ‘surprised’ Carlo Ancelotti with another standout performance as Real Madrid ran out 3-2 winners at Napoli in the Champions League.

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder netted Los Blancos opener subsequently creating history as he followed Christian Karembeu in 1998 and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 as Real Madrid players who netted in their first two Champions League for the club.

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Furthermore, he’s chasing an Erling Haaland record, as this effort was Bellingham’s eighth in the competition with only four players scoring more before turning 21: Erling Haaland (20), Kylian Mbappé (19), Karim Benzema (12) and Patrick Kluivert (9).

Bellingham turns 21 next June but according to Ancelotti he’s playing beyond his years.

“What is surprising about Bellingham is that he is only 20. It feels like he’s 30. For his character, his personality,” he told reporters after the Napoli game. “He is always focused on the match, he knows what he needs to do, and this is rare in a 20-year-old player. Then you have all his quality, his physical strength, his skills. It is surprising, we are all a bit surprised.”

Having joined from Dortmund for an initial fee of £88.5m, the England international has stepped up as Real’s most valuable player so far this season. To date he’s made nine appearances in all competitions, scoring eight goals while creating a further three.

His latest effort saw Bellingham pick the ball up in midfield before driving towards the area. Napoli’s defenders backed away and the Madrid midfielder kept on coming, eventually getting into the penalty box, chopping the ball onto his right foot and placing his shot inside the far post. It drew Diego Maradona comparisons, but the Brummie wasn’t having any of it.

“I think that’s a bit too much. It was a good one but given what I’ve seen on YouTube and in documentaries I’m quite clear he was better than me,” he said.

“But Vinicius might be the most talented team mate I’ve had. In my opinion he’s the best in the world. We make a great partnership!”