Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid is perfect for him, Premier League fans and England
Jude Bellingham is an Englishman and we always expect Englishmen to ‘come home’ but not every Englishmen gets a chance to be part of a great Real Madrid side.
If at barely 17 you can pragmatically leave your boyhood club and turn down the obvious, safe choice that is Manchester United after a tour of the training ground that included a charm offensive from Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona, and instead join the talent farm at Borussia Dortmund, then you should not be surprised if – as 19 becomes 20 – the same player opts for Real Madrid over ‘coming home’ to England.
Any young English footballer enjoying success outside the Premier League is always presumed by the English media to be desperate to return, to play in the greatest league in the world, to star in Super Sundays, to be kicked by relegation scufflers, to play ‘proper’ football. We expect Brazilians and Frenchman and other foreign types to hanker after Real Madrid or Barcelona, but an English lad?
Surely he wants to play for Liverpool or Manchester United? Surely he wants to be the next Steven Gerrard? United even pressed the Bryan Robson button in an effort to persuade Bellingham back in 2020 despite Robson last playing for United almost a decade before he was born. Chelsea rolled out Frank Lampard back when his name still commanded respect.
Bellingham loved Gerrard but that would never have been enough to take him to Liverpool – we said in March that if it’s Liverpool v Manchester City then the logical Bellingham would always choose the latter. Young boys of the 21st century dream of playing for Real Madrid and wear PSG shirts with Borussia Dortmund shorts; their world is not as small as those who would have you believe that English football is the true pinnacle.
Bellingham is an Englishman but he is a brilliant young footballer first, and brilliant young footballers join Real Madrid with their storied history and part-ownership of the Champions League.
This is the club of Vinicius Jnr, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni, of true excellence to take them far, far beyond the Luka Modric and Karim Benzema years. He turned down more money from Manchester to join Borussia Dortmund three years ago and it is both pragmatic and romantic to do the same again for Real Madrid. This list of clubs ranked by transfer lure needs a little updating a year later but Real Madrid would still be top by some distance.
Those of us without a horse in the Premier League race should also be happy with Bellingham’s choice. City looked like the logical decision when it seemed that the deal would be too expensive for Real Madrid, but adding him to Erling Haaland screams monopoly, and not in a fun Sunday evening way when you argue over being the boot. As we look down the barrel of a City Treble, the last thing we need is for them to sign the world’s best teenager.
As an England fan, I would rather see Bellingham at Real Madrid than within the heat of the sapping Premier League battle, which can be physically and mentally draining. Rather than his every minute being analysed to declare him a flop or a sensation on a revolving weekly basis, we can almost forget he exists until he inevitably wins the Champions League. And then wins it again.
There will be those who say that Bellingham has swerved the white heat of the Premier League by choosing Real Madrid, who have not finished outside the top three places of La Liga for almost 20 years. But put his nationality aside and nobody should be surprised or disappointed by one of the best players of his generation joining the biggest and quite often best club.
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