Sergio Gallardo


Jude Bellingham is key to Real Madrid's efforts to rejuvenate their midfield


With Real Madrid and a number of Premier League clubs out to sign him, Jude Bellingham has held talks with Borussia Dortmund. 

Dortmund have offered him a new,  five-year deal that would double his salary. The 19-year-old would become the club’s highest-paid player.

Reports in the British media say  the former Birmingham City  midfielder will turn down the offer to extend his stay in Germany.

However, Sky Sport Deutschland  says Dortmund are preparing to tempt him with an even bigger contract:  €15m over three and a half years.

If he doesn’t renew, Dortmund’s  stance is clear: Bellingham is worth €110m and any club who wants to  sign him must pay 75% up front.

The England star has plenty of suitors: City, Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea all want him, but Madrid are in pole position. He wants to join Los Blancos.

Bellingham is a player Madrid need. According to AI firm Olocip, he’d  offer higher performance levels than  all the club’s current midfielders.

The teenager is a rare talent. Allying physical prowess with top technique, he chips in with plenty of goals (10 for Dortmund this term) and assists (four).

Madrid need to bolster their midfield options for the future. Veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are both out of contract in June, and could leave.

Despite the uncertainty, they’re clear  on their love for Madrid. “Being here  is a dream I don’t want to wake up from,” Modric told AS in September.

“I’m going to retire here - the  question is when,” Kroos has said, meanwhile. “I don’t think I’ll still be playing when I’m 37 or 38.”

In recent games, Madrid’s engine room has faltered. They lost the midfield battle in defeat to Barcelona, and in the first half of the win at Villarreal.

Federico Valverde is struggling to reproduce his early-season form as  a false winger, and Aurélien Tchouaméni has suffered a calf injury. 

There aren’t many other options. Eduardo Camavinga has had to take on more responsibility in a period when Madrid are fighting on four fronts: league, cup, Club World Cup and UCL.

Against this backdrop, Dani Ceballos has been like a new signing: he rescued Madrid at Villarreal, and did well away to Athletic Club on Sunday.

Ceballos is out of contract in June,  but is optimistic he’ll stay: “Madrid  are the world’s biggest club. I can  show I’m good enough to stay here.”