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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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Manchester United have found the perfect solution to their midfield dilemma – Manchester Evening News

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Although Manchester United didn’t play on Wednesday evening in the latest round of Champions League fixtures, there were still plenty of interesting narratives for fans to keep an eye on.

United supporters will no doubt have been keen to assess the respective performances of Premier League rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, though Borussia Dortmund’s trip to Besiktas earlier in the evening provided just as much intrigue.

The talent we were all desperate to watch? No, not Erling Haaland (well, maybe a little) – we’d all settled in to watch Jude Bellingham.

At just 18 years of age, Bellingham has developed into one of the most exciting footballers in Europe and during the early Champions League kick-off on Wednesday evening he didn’t disappoint.

The youngster opened his and Dortmund’s Champions League account for the season as he chested Thomas Meunier’s pass into his path before firing through goalkeeper Ersin Destanoglu’s legs, before later bagging an assist as Erling Haaland scored what proved to be the winner, sending Marco Rose’s men to the top of their group.

While Bellingham’s display had a number of highlight-reel moments, his all-round performance was just as impressive. The teenager had a passing accuracy of 89%, completed three successful dribbles, won 12 duels and made eight interceptions.

He also made three tackles and two clearances in just 69 minutes, perfectly portraying his ability to influence the game at both ends of the pitch.

Bellingham has now scored two goals this season, meaning he needs just two more to beat his tally from the previous season. He’s also already matched his tally for assists (four) from the 2020/21 campaign.

United supporters will know all about Bellingham’s qualities after the club had seemed destined to sign him before he decided on a move to Germany.

Bellingham and Haaland have developed a great relationship at Dortmund It was rumoured that Sir Alex Ferguson met with Bellingham’s family and took them on a tour around United’s Carrington training complex.

However, it wasn’t enough to persuade him to move north of his hometown and, eventually, he moved to Dortmund. You’d be forgiven for assuming he probably regrets turning down United given he could be a first-team regular at the club now, though he seemingly holds no regrets.

“To be fair, it was a decision that was quite easy in the end. I think if you look at Dortmund’s track record with young players and the way they develop them, it was the obvious answer,” he said after England’s Euro 2020 win against Croatia.

“Obviously, at the time it’s hard to see it like that because you’ve got so many other options. But my strength of character, I’d probably say it comes from my parents and stuff. In terms of the decision I made, I had all their support throughout the whole way so I was quite comfortable in making it.”

When he does eventually leave Germany, there’ll be a queue of clubs vying for his signature and United need to make sure they’re right at the front.

Throughout the summer transfer window, United fans were calling for the club to sign a holding midfielder, identifying a gaping hole in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

It was reported that United were interested in a midfielder but nothing ever seemed concrete. In fact, the plans eventually changed once the club became aware of Cristiano Ronaldo’s availability, and suddenly the defensive midfield issue was pushed to the wayside.

Despite Bellingham being more of a box-to-box midfielder, he still has plenty of time to develop and potentially adapt his game, and he’s already shown he has the defensive nous to play in a holding midfield role.

When United were linked with a move for Eduardo Camavinga earlier this summer, fans were quick to point out he could be transformed into a midfield anchor as he has so much time left in his career – the same case can be made for Bellingham. If Camavinga can do it, why can’t he?

You may notice this piece of writing has been produced by a name you’re not familiar with on our regular Manchester United content.

That is because we are expanding our horizons and starting to bring even more to you from a whole host of different voices. We have appointed a whole host of people who – like our journalists – care deeply about what’s happening at Old Trafford – but sit in the stands rather than the press box.

We want to give you raw, authentic fan voices about the big issues at Man United – which is why the story you have read today might sit on the Manchester Evening News for now, and is part of the MEN family, but is not representative of those who work there full time.

Keep your eyes peeled for more info on where you can read more from this author in the future. But in the meantime, we hope you enjoy what they have written.

There will be a host of top clubs after him, but United might actually be the perfect fit for him to blossom into one of the greatest players of all time.

It remains to be seen whether United will lodge their interest in him once again if he does decide to leave Dortmund next summer, but in my mind, there’s no doubt that he’s the perfect midfielder for the club.

Should United move for Bellingham? Follow our new United Fan Brands writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on Bellingham in the comments section below.

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