Bellingham's big decision: Man Utd, Liverpool, City and Chelsea all desperate to sign Dortmund's £100m man

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Jude Bellingham is set to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season. A bidding war is inevitable.

Jude Bellingham can take his pick of clubs next season. It is as straightforward as that for the 19-year-old with the world at his feet and the giants of his game banging at his door.

Manchester United love him, Liverpool want him to inject youth and sparkle into an ageing midfield, while Manchester City know they are likely to have to replace at least one of Bernardo Silva or Ilkay Gundogan next summer.

Chelsea, too, are long-term admirers and have shown under their new owners that they're not afraid to splash the cash.

Bellingham, then, is quite simply the player every top Premier League club is prepared to battle it out for when he likely leaves Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season.

But who's going to sign the most in-demand young player in world football? GOAL analyses what the future holds for Bellingham...

  1. Bellingham knows his worth
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    Bellingham knows his worth

    First things first, there is no guarantee the teenager from Stourbridge will even opt for a homecoming just yet. After all, he already resisted the overtures of Sir Alex Ferguson, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona when United threw everything they had at trying to tempt him away from Birmingham in 2020.

    Bellingham knows his worth, knows his own mind – and has the assuredness of someone much older than his tender years to follow his own path.

    Dortmund, he decided, was a better environment to develop his prodigious talents than Old Trafford.

    Erling Haaland thought likewise when being courted by United at around the same time – and it didn’t turn out too badly for him.

    So, like Haaland, Bellingham is set to be at the centre of an almighty transfer scramble when he leaves Dortmund – but don’t rule out Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain, if he concludes that a return to England is not the right move for him.

  2. Ready for the next step
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    Ready for the next step

    Something that does seem certain is that he will be ready for the next step come the end of the season.

    He gave a tantalising glimpse of his qualities in Dortmund's Champions League defeat to City earlier this month, scoring at the Etihad and imposing himself on Pep Guardiola’s star-studded team.

    He feels like the man to take England to the next level ahead of the World Cup, with Gareth Southgate facing scrutiny during this international window over how he handles the midfielder.

    Indeed, there are growing concerns that the manager's conservative tactics are stifling Bellingham's immense talent.

  3. The future of England

    The future of England

    Bellingham’s versatility is a strength and has allowed Southgate to keep him involved over the past 18 months – but he needs to be given a defined role in the team.

    A midfield three with Declan Rice and Phil Foden would breathe life into an area of the pitch where England too often look short of inspiration – but would the risk-averse Southgate really veer so far away from the extra protection added by a Jordan Henderson or Kalvin Phillips?

    Mason Mount instead of Foden might provide more of a half-way house – but the Chelsea player’s best performances have come in a more attacking role for club and country.

    The feeling is that Bellingham is the future of England and that the midfield now needs to be built around Bellingham but, as once again underlined in last week's 1-0 loss to Italy, which relegated the Three Lions from the top tier of the Nations League, there are significant doubts over whether Southgate is capable of getting the very best out of the nation's best attacking talents.

  4. Qatar calling

    Qatar calling

    Still, there is a growing clamour for Bellingham and Rice to make up two thirds of any England midfield at the World Cup. How Southgate chooses to supplement them is, of course, up to him. It's a decision that will likely define both England's tournament and, by consequence, the manager's legacy.

    What's clear, though, is that if Bellingham shines in Qatar, Dortmund can effectively name their price for their most valuable asset.

    He is already considered a potential era-defining talent. If he were to leave his mark on the 2022 World Cup, Bellingham will likely be a £100 million ($110m) player by this time next year, which narrows the field of potential destinations significantly...

  5. United's hopes
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    United's hopes

    So, could he become United’s first £100m player?

    Erik ten Hag still feels he is short of a ball-carrying midfielder after admitting defeat in the lengthy pursuit of Frenkie de Jong.

    United are still monitoring the Netherlands international’s situation at Barcelona and plan to renew their interest – but Bellingham's imminent availability could prompt a change of direction.

    He could be deemed more marketable for a club that has prided itself on having England’s star midfielders at the heart of its teams down through the years, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Bryan Robson and David Beckham.

    But they will need to show genuine progress under Ten Hag to eradicate the doubts Bellingham clearly felt when last being courted by the club.

    A defined style, trophy prospects and evidence of players actually improving under Ten Hag’s guidance will be key factors.

  6. The Sancho effect
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    The Sancho effect

    Jadon Sancho could either be a help or a hindrance in that regard.

    The winger, who made the move from Dortmund to United in the summer of 2021, became the latest marquee signing to stall at Old Trafford, resulting in him losing his England place.

    While he was an inspiration to Bellingham before moving to the Westfalonstadion, he cannot have failed to see Sancho's difficulties since returning to English football with United.

    But Ten Hag has already had an impact on Sancho. He’s scored three goals this season and is responding to the attentions of his new manager.

    Should his development continue on an upwards trajectory, it could positively influence Bellingham’s thinking.

  7. Liverpool leading the chase?
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    Liverpool leading the chase?

    In many ways, Liverpool feel like an ideal fit for Bellingham – and it is easy to see why Jurgen Klopp is such an admirer.

    The German needs the energy of youth in a midfield that is showing signs of creaking this season.

    Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Thiago Alcantara are all over 30 – and have a combined age of 99.

    Klopp was prepared to wait for the right target, with Bellingham widely considered to be that man – but so alarming was Liverpool’s start to the campaign that a loan move for Arthur was hastily completed before the window shut.

    The Brazilian is nothing more than a stop-gap solution. Liverpool's No.1 target remains Bellingham. But would the often-frugal FSG really be willing to enter a bidding war for the 19-year-old with some of England's and Europe's elite?

    Of course, they have been prepared to spend big before, breaking the record both for a centre-back and a goalkeeper after determining Virgil van Dijk and Alisson as must-haves – and Bellingham could well fit that description.

    It will also be fascinating to see if Klopp and Liverpool can maintain their allure if we are witnessing the start of a transitional period post-Sadio Mane – and the natural decline of players who have been pivotal to their recent success.

  8. City's dream team
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    City's dream team

    Conversely, while Liverpool may be on the slide, City look primed to dominate for years to come – thanks in no small part to the signing of Bellingham’s former Dortmund team-mate Haaland.

    It would be difficult for any young player not to be excited by the prospect of joining Pep Guardiola’s serial winners.

    Haaland has shown the possibilities of what can happen when brilliant individual talent combines with such a devastatingly fluid machine.

    For Bellingham, there would be the allure of playing alongside the unrivalled midfield qualities of Kevin De Bruyne and the chance to hone an understanding with Foden, England's other great hope.

    In addition, Gundogan is out of contract next summer and Bernardo came close to leaving in this window, so there will potentially be room for a major signing to come in as a replacement.

    City, too, have already proven they are prepared to pay £100m for a player (Jack Grealish) – the only English club ever to do so.

  9. Chelsea's ambitious new owners
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    Chelsea's ambitious new owners

    Chelsea make up the quartet of Premier League sides with a realistic ambition of landing Bellingham.

    By the end of the season both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho will be out of contract. Rice remains a long-term target – but is also valued in excess of £100m.

    Committing to both England men would be a major statement from new owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital – but midfield is undoubtedly an area in need of overhaul.

    The truth is there is a case to be made for Bellingham to solve problems at any of the Premier League’s big four and beyond.

    The world is his – and so is the choice.