Football News

Hristo Stoichkov lauds Bellingham as mixture of Laudrup, Kaka and Pogba despite ‘undeserved’ Golden Boy award

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:00, 22 November 2023

Hristo Stoichkov believes Jude Bellingham will be a Ballon d’Or contender one day but was underserving of the latest Golden Boy award.

Bellingham was named recipient of Tuttosport’s prize first established in 2023 to recognise players under 21 with Ajax midfielder Rafael van der Vaart as the inaugural winner.

The 20-year-old England international received a staggering 97% of all votes cast this year with Bayern Munich winger Jamal Musiala and RB Leipzig forward Xavi Simons rounding off the podium.

Bellingham was recently named the fifth Kopa Trophy winner following in the footsteps of Spain duo Gavi, Pedri as well as Matthijs de Ligt and Kylian Mbappé all of whom are past Golden Boy holders.

However, former Ballon d’Or recipient Stoichkov feels the former Borussia Dortmund man and current Real Madrid star was the wrong choice, but that’s not to say Bellingham isn’t a legend in the making with Bulgaria’s greatest footballer seeing two past stars and current name as part of his makeup.

“No (he shouldn’t have won). I don’t dispute his value. He’s one of the strongest talents in the world: he’s got a lot of class and a lot of brains. For me, he’s a mixture of Michael Laudrup, Kaka and Paul Pogba. The future is his,” he told Tuttosport journalist Massimo Franchi.

“The next Ballon d’Or will be played with him, Mbappe and Haaland, but I’d like to know what he won in 2023 between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid. Nothing… Given that Gavi, the reigning winner, was not eligible under the regulations I would have given it to (Jamal) Musiala or (Alejandro) Balde, who won La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup with Barcelona.”

A wanted man this past summer, the native of Stourbridge swapped Dortmund for Madrid, and to say he’s made an impact would be a gross understatement.

He is worth every penny of the reported £88.5m paid for his services. To date, he’s made no fewer than 14 appearances for Spain’s most decorated club in all competitions subsequently registering 13 goals while creating three more. No effort was greater so far than his equaliser and winner at Barcelona in a first-ever Clasico outing.

“(Bellingham) looks like a veteran out there because of his attitude. His first goal changed the dynamic completely of what was a difficult game for us,” Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said afterwards.

“I can’t deny that we are all surprised with his vein of form, especially with his level and his effectiveness. He is everywhere on the field. Today he was stupendous and shocked everyone with his wonderful goal from the edge of the area.”

Luka Modric, who provided the assist to Bellingham’s winner, echoed Ancelotti’s thoughts.

“It seems like he’s been here a long time, not three months. As they say in Spain, he landed on his feet. He exudes personality, character. It’s no coincidence that he has adapted so well,” he told DANZ.

“He’s a top boy, with an extraordinary talent. I don’t think even he can believe he’s scoring so many goals… I congratulate him and I hope he keeps going, he can’t slow down!”