Given the recent news that Real Madrid is set to raise the stakes in the pursuit of Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham, it has now become imperative that Manchester United match the pressure of their rival.
Unsurprisingly, Los Blancos have already launched their campaign to attract Bellingham to the Bernabeu. The Athletic reported that a lot of European giants will fight for his signature next summer.
United have been longtime fans of the Birmingham resident, having been looking for him since the age of 12. But why is it so important that they fight for a transfer this summer?
Firstly, Bellingham’s youth, combined with his already impeccable qualities and mature attitude, suggests that he will win in the world for at least the next decade.
Although United’s midfield of Christian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro looks very impressive on paper, their age profile hardly matches the visionary team of Eric ten Haga.
Fernandes is the only one of the aforementioned trio younger than 30 (he turned 28 last month). In the famous Ajax Ten Hag team in 2019, Donny van de Beek and Frankie de Jong played — two midfielders who were in their early twenties at the time.
It is this disregard for the youthful energy of midfield and tenacity that has made Bellingham such a tempting addition to Ten Hag’s current capabilities.
Also, could Ten Hag’s consistent story of turning young players into superstars have influenced Bellingham’s decision-making?
His dynamism combined with his age seems incredibly fitting for a side that lacks adaptability and vitality.
Moreover, United have shown that they are not afraid to empty their pockets for a suitable young player. For example, Jaydon Sancho was worth 75 million pounds; Anthony was worth 85 million pounds; The fees of Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo, including possible surcharges, were agreed in the amount of 58 and 40 million pounds, respectively.
Although Dortmund executives are said to be expecting offers in excess of £100 million, United’s extensive recruitment last summer, combined with Ten Haga’s tendency to use the academy, could make Bellingham the sole focus of attention in the next major transfer window.
Secondly, Bellingham’s style of play seems to fit well with what United are aiming for at the moment. Eric ten Hag has shown that he wants the team to throw teams back.
He notes that one of the main qualities of Bellingham is his high pressure. Indeed, he averages 0.53 ball selections in the opponent’s third match in 90 minutes, which puts him in the 95th percentile among the best midfielders, according to FB Ref.
Meanwhile, his skill of playing in midfield has already reached the world level. Bellingham averages 10.67 passes under pressure in 90 minutes. This places him in the 92nd percentile compared to his peers.
Although Bellingham likes to circle the field from deep (he averages 1.77 dribbles per match), his fearlessness in being available in front of the ball stands out.
A young player gets 5.26 progressive passes in 90 seconds. This puts him in the 96th percentile among linebackers for the same action.
United’s lack of midfield options — whether deep midfield or attacking midfield — is laughable.
Last season, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof often tried to make miracle balls to the wingers, as their search for a suitable teammate in midfield often failed.
Bellingham’s excellent technical qualities and mature style of play would make him an ideal candidate for this United team and for Eric ten Haag’s philosophy as a coach who prefers bold, persistent, attacking ideals.
Thirdly, and quite appropriately after discussing Bellingham’s qualities, United’s midfield depth is insufficient.
Scott McTominay, Fred and Donnie van de Beek have shown that their abilities are not enough to turn United into a team fighting for the title.
Even if they are considered as composite players, their quality is not enough to compensate for the best midfielders Eriksen, Casemiro and Fernandez.
For example, Carlo Ancelotti demonstrated during Madrid’s winning La Liga campaign last season how vital it is to have exceptional rotation in midfield.
Bellingham could be a key cog in turning United’s midfield into a competitive, dominant machine that shouldn’t have to depend on one team member performing at a high level.
Ten Hag wanted Frankie de Jong to be that player last summer. But it is clear that the Dutchman does not want to leave Barcelona.
Indeed, Bellingham has already turned down United. After meeting with Bryan Robson, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sulscher’s staff, his family decided that Dortmund and the Bundesliga were the best fit for a player who had just turned 17.
Is now the perfect moment for him to make a move and increase the depth of United’s midfield? Is now the perfect time for him to showcase his cultural and superb talents at Old Trafford? Is this the perfect time for United?