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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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United target Bellingham has fans thinking ‘what if’ after performance

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Jude Bellingham was the outstanding player of Wednesday’s Champions League fixtures, setting Besiktas vs Borussia Dortmund alight with a dynamic midfield performance where he scored a goal and assisted fellow young star, Erling Haaland.

Bellingham is continuing his rapid ascent up the ladder of Europe’s most highly touted midfield prospects after making his debut for hometown club Birmingham City at just 16 years old. Now, the 18-year-old is a fixture in the Dortmund midfield and a regular England international. Indeed, he looks on his way to play an essential part at the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

With several outstanding Champions League performances already under his belt — including breakout displays against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of last season’s competition — the Englishman perhaps delivered his most complete performance on Wednesday, netting the opening goal of the evening with a brilliant finish through the keeper’s legs. Shortly after, Bellingham’s slaloming run through the Besiktas defence ended with the assist to set up Haaland’s goal.

But it could have been so different for Bellingham and Manchester United fans had the efforts of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Sir Alex Ferguson resulted in the box-to-box midfielder taking the trip up north to Old Trafford, rather than a move to Germany.

Despite the efforts, sources close to the club believed that Bellingham and his family were always most interested in a move to Dortmund, owing to their proven track record of developing youngsters before sending them to one of the European giants in a big-money deal. Think Jadon Sancho, Ousmane Dembele or Robert Lewandowski.

Now, United fans have taken to social media to discuss whether it was the right move for Bellingham, with many suggesting that he could have been the solution to Solskjaer’s midfield dilemma.

Equally, these reactions demonstrate that some fans do not have faith in United’s coaching staff to have spotted Bellingham’s rapid development to fast-track his path to the first team. One fan suggested that had he decided to join the Reds, the youngster would be playing for the youth sides. Still, at still only 18-years-old, Bellingham’s gift is surely one too startling to ignore.

United will undoubtedly face competition from Europe’s top sides in securing a deal for Bellingham after recent reports have linked Liverpool and Manchester City with a move for the England international. Yet, the Bellingham family were left impressed and flattered by United’s considerable efforts in 2020 and could still be enough to influence his decision a couple of years down the line.

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