Champions League sensation Bellingham already England’s best midfielder

FT Desk
FT Desk
  • Updated: 15 Sept 2021 18:54 BST
  • 4 min read
Jude Bellingham, Besiktas v Dortmund, 2021-22
© ProShots

Jude Bellingham hit the headlines once again on Wednesday evening after scoring and assisting in the Champions League.

The midfielder broke the deadlock after 20 minutes in Dortmund’s Champions League matchday one clash in Turkey against Besiktas.

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He made one of his trademark dashes from midfield into the box before volleying the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Ersin Destanoglu.

Bellingham then created Dortmund’s second goal just before half time for Erling Haaland. He dribbled past his man on the left before cutting back to the Norwegian to score.

It is hard to believe that Bellingham only recently turned 18 on June 29, yet he already has a huge amount of experience at the top level.

He is only three games short from reaching a century of senior club appearances, having initially made his professional debut at the age of 16 for Birmingham City. This was a record for the club.

After transferring to Dortmund in the summer of 2020 at the age of 17, he has already clocked up over 50 appearances for the German giants.

Who is England's best central midfielder?

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He has found the back of the net a respectable six times, two of these on the highest of stages in the Champions League. Indeed, his first Champions League strike was in the quarter-finals against Manchester City last season.

He is also attracting interest from Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United, with Dortmund valuing him at over €100 million.

A box to box number eight with good close control, indefatigable stamina, excellent late runs into the box and clinical finishes, Bellingham is developing into the complete player.

Should Bellingham start for England?

Indeed, it could be argued that despite his young age, Bellingham is already England’s best central midfielder.

During Euro 2020, manager Gareth Southgate favoured a double pivot of West Ham’s Declan Rice and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips.

However, it was evident during the final defeat to Italy, that these two players are solid defensively but perhaps limited in their all-round and offensive game.

Italy dominated the possession and territory due to their superior midfield, with Jorginho and Marco Verratti pulling the strings.

This continued when Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson was introduced in the second half.

Henderson is now 31 and appears to be on the wane while, unlike in many other areas of the pitch, England are not blessed with too many top-quality central midfield options.

The other alternatives for a centre midfield shirt are Spurs’ Harry Winks and Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse.

The likes of Mason Mount and Phil Foden are probably too offensive to be considered as central midfielders.

With just over a year to go until the World Cup, the calls have started for Bellingham to become a first-choice midfielder under Southgate. It’s hard to disagree.

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