According to the Birmingham Live, Arsenal are one of the clubs to have registered an interest in 16-year-old Birmingham City midfielder Jude Bellingham, with Man City and Liverpool also keen to snap up the teenage hotshot in a bid to bolster their homegrown quota.
The same report claims that the Premier League clubs are likely to face stiff competition from Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona in their pursuit of Bellingham, who is currently enjoying a fairytale breakthrough season at St. Andrew’s in the EFL Championship.
Bellingham featured regularly for the Blues’ U-23 side last season before becoming the club’s youngster ever first-team player at the age of 16 years and 38 days when he made his debut in an EFL Cup tie against Portsmouth back in August this term.
The 16-year-old has hit the ground running immediately under Blues manager Pep Clotet, making a seamless transition from the academy and development ranks to the senior side.
Having made his league debut with a cameo off the bench against Swansea City, Bellingham set the record for the club’s youngest goalscorer in his second outing in the Championship against Stoke City. The 16-year-old came on as a substitute to inspire the Blues’ to a 2-1 comeback victory over the Potters in what was a truly remarkable home debut for the youngster.
Well, Bellingham hasn’t looked back since then and the homegrown star continued his meteoric rise in senior football with yet another match-winning performance against Charlton Athletic, scoring the all-important winner in a 1-0 victory over the Addicks just after the international break.
The Stourbridge-born starlet, who currently captains the England U-17 side, has taken the Championship by storm in his debut season and the Blues could have their work cut out in keeping hold of the 16-year-old if he continues his rich vein of form in the coming weeks.
Bellingham is still very much in his formative years as a footballer but he has already shown strong signs of excellence in a team that has struggled to hit great heights in the Championship this term.
That he is already playing senior first-team football in a league as gruelling as the Championship speaks volumes of his prodigious talent and, in fairness to all, interest from the Premier League in his services hardly comes as a big surprise.
To put things into perspective, Jude Bellingham has definitely shown a level of maturity that belies his tender years as a footballer and while a promising prospect like him would be an ideal long-term investment for any top club, Arsenal should look to try and win the race for the 16-year-old.
Despite a mediocre start to the ongoing campaign, the Gunners have caught the eye with their emphasis on promoting youth, with Unai Emery showing a lot of confidence in players like Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock.
Others like Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah impressed a lot in the previous campaign and Arsenal definitely have an envious pool of young talent at their disposal.
Indeed, they have lost top prospects like Stephy Mavididi, Donyell Malen and Jeff Reine-Adelaide in recent years but the Gunners have recently taken steps to keep hold of the emerging talents in their ranks.
The decisions to secure the long-term future of Willock and also reward highly-rated academy prospect Sam Greenwood with a new professional deal are indicative of the club’s renewed faith in their homegrown talents and bringing in Jude Bellingham would add another feather to their cap.
Bellingham still needs a lot of polishing before he is ready to make the step up to the Premier League, meaning that Arsenal would be better off looking at him as a future first-team player rather than someone who could possibly come through the door and make an immediate impact.
Either way, the 16-year-old looks like a real talent and the Gunners should leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of the England U-17 captain.
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