Real Madrid have agreed to sign England midfielder Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of £88.5m.
Dortmund say the figure for Bellingham could surpass £115m with add-ons, making him the most expensive British player ever at the age of just 19.
The German club, whose website crashed when they released the news, seemed to confirm Bellingham will sign a six-year deal at the Bernabeu in their statement.
Regarding the add-ons, the club statement read: “Such variable transfer fees are dependent on the achievement of certain sporting successes by Real Madrid and/or sporting successes or performances of the player at Real Madrid in the period of the next six seasons.”
Bellingham, who moved to Dortmund from Championship side Birmingham in 2020, had interest from Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League, but Real appear to have won the race for his signature.
Liverpool had been favourites for Bellingham at one stage, however they were forced to end their pursuit due to the cost of the deal.
The midfielder was named the Bundesliga’s Player of the Year for the past season as Dortmund agonisingly missed out on the title to rivals Bayern Munich on the final day.
Bellingham has 24 caps and one goal for England since making his international debut against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley in November 2020.
Real Madrid move ‘a bit of a surprise’
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“I think the Jude Bellingham story just shows us what is happening in the transfer market. It’s not just players like Lionel Messi, at the ends of their careers, who can choose their clubs. It’s also really young players, like Bellingham, like Erling Haaland.
“Players that good can choose where they move to. Bellingham, same as Erling Haaland, has got a lot of offers in front of him. Him and his family, and his advisors, have looked at all those offers and decided that Real Madrid is where he wants to go.
“It’s a cliché in football that Real Madrid are very difficult to turn down, but it is a bit of a surprise because quite a few people thought that maybe he would put it off for a few years, that maybe this was the stage of his career where he would move to the Premier League, maybe play for Liverpool, then move to Real Madrid later on.
“But he has looked at all the offers and decided that now is the time he would like to move to Real Madrid. He was one of their top, top targets and it will be a massive boost to them to have got him.
“I think it’s good news for Gareth Southgate as well. Great for him to have a player as important as Bellingham, playing in LaLiga, for arguably the biggest club in the world.
“Having said that, though, he might have a bit of trouble getting in their first-team regularly. I know I am being a little bit facetious, but they do have players like Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga in midfield as well.
“But obviously, they have said to Bellingham, ‘You are the future. We want you here and we want you this summer.'”
Where will Jude Bellingham fit in at Real Madrid?
When Bellingham was at the peak of his powers during the World Cup with England, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti had his say on where he ranks as one of the best young midfielders in the world.
“Bellingham is one of them,” the Italian said. “But I’ll stick with my midfielders, who are very good, especially the youngsters.”
It was a reminder, despite Bellingham being one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world, that Real Madrid are a club with plenty of pedigree in that position.
The Spanish giants are blessed with a wide range of young midfielders. Last year, Aurelien Tchouameni, 23, signed a six-year deal after joining for £68m from Monaco, Eduardo Camavinga, 20, arrived 12 months earlier for a £35m fee from Rennes, while Federico Valverde, 24, is closing in on 200 appearances for the club.
Add in Luka Modric, 37, and Toni Kroos, 33, who despite having a combined age of 70 are still vital to this the side, and Real have the perfect blend of youth and experience in midfield, with Dani Ceballos one of Ancelotti’s surprise talents of the season at the age of 26.
So where does Bellingham fit in? Is he even guaranteed a place in the Real starting line-up?
“I do think it’s a good fit for him,” LaLigaTV presenter Semra Hunter told Sky Sports News. “But whether he walks into the team? No, I don’t think that’s the case.”
After all, Kroos and Modric still play for Real in the biggest games, alongside Valverde in the midfield. Both Kroos and Modric are set to sign new contract extensions and if Ancelotti remains as Real manager for next season then a widespread change in midfield is going to take some doing.
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