Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Bellingham: the keys to a historic emergence

Jude Bellingham is the undisputed sensation of LaLiga, and possibly, of all European football. His meteoric emergence into a team of the demands of Real Madrid has surprised even the protagonists themselves.

The Englishman did not arrive at the ‘white house’ as a stranger, it is not every day that 103 million euros plus 30 in variables are paid – at this rate, he is going to fulfill them all – for a footballer, but no one could expect that in the start of his first season, and at 20 years of age, He added 13 goals in 13 games, a goal per game, accompanied by 3 assists. Above all, because it is not a pure ‘9’.

There are several keys that help explain its incontestable success:

1 A scheme conceived by Ancelotti to suit him

Carlo Ancelotti is largely to blame for Bellingham’s scoring prominence. The Italian has turned a problem into a solution. The departure of Karim Benzema (31 goals last season) left the white team ‘orphaned’ of a scorer. Neither Vinicius nor Rodrygo are natural and the signing of Joselu, on loan from Espanyol (17 goals last season) seemed insufficient.

With Bellingham, ‘Carletto’ had a very talented and talented midfielder on his hands, but not a pure ‘9’. Difficult to fit into his usual 4-3-3. The Italian remembered what had happened to him years before at Parma with Roberto Baggio. At that moment, he did not want to change his system for a footballer, no matter how good he was. And he was wrong. He wasn’t going to have the same thing happen to him with Jude.

Ancelotti has devised a 4-4-2, placing Bellingham at the top of the diamond. And a team orbiting around it, as Thierry Henry has explained well: “The three midfielders give him stability from behind, and the forwards in front of him run and open spaces.” And it’s working.

2 Be less of a passer to score more goals

To get an idea of ​​the ‘newness’ that Bellingham’s scoring ability has brought with Real Madrid, you only have to review the Englishman’s scoring records last season. In all of 2022/2023 with Borussia Dortmund, Jude celebrated 14 goals in 42 games. Just one more of those who now count as a target.

And the same in previous seasons in Germany. On 21/22, 6 goals in 44 games; and 20/21, 4 in 46. Dortmund signed him from Brimingham, where he scored only 4 goals in 44 games in the 2019/2020 campaign.

That is to say, he has gone from averages of, at most, one goal every three games (last season) to a goal per game. His ‘killer’ instinct has multiplied, but possibly in exchange for distributing fewer assists. He has three in his debut with Real Madrid (two to Vinicius and one to Joselu).

Last season, he scored seven goals. There weren’t many assists, but two ago, for example, there were 14, his record so far. A transformation that has been adapted to the needs of Real Madrid.

3 A footballer very sure of his possibilities

“I’m just a normal boy,” were some of his first words as a Real Madrid fan. And to a certain extent, it is true. Jude tries to lead a life without fuss, always following the advice of his mother, Denise. Of African origin, he arrived in England and met Mark, a former sergeant who has given his son a sense of discipline. But the one who keeps his feet on the ground and is constantly at his side is his mother.

Bellingham is a familiar guy and even “boring”, in his own words. Something shy, although less and less. But if there is any trait that characterizes him, it is his confidence in his own possibilities, which has always led him to want to improve himself and accept the challenge of signing for Real Madrid, even knowing that he could be pursued if he did poorly by the high cost of its transfer.

Celebrating his goals, with his arms raised high, can lead to thinking about arrogance, and even remind us of Cristiano Ronaldo. But apparently that’s not the case. It emerged “naturally” in 2019 coinciding with Charlton’s visit to Birmingham and has remained that way until now.

4 The arrival of recognition and the future with Mbappé

Jude Bellingham has not gotten worked up for now, even Barcelona fans were pleased with his ‘good vibes’ with Gavi in ​​the classic or that, despite being the undisputed protagonist with the double, he did not emulate any of his teammates.

But we will have to see how he assimilates everything that is coming at him so suddenly, because it is never easy. Last Monday, in Paris, he received the Kopa Award for the best young footballer of the moment, and if he continues this progression, he will collect many more. He is already being predicted as a future Ballon d’Or winner. His humility will be put to the test.

It will also be necessary to see how the Englishman fits in if, finally, the arrival of Kylian Mbappé occurs next season. Real Madrid continues to think about the French star and tactically, Ancelotti – or whoever sits on the Bernabéu bench if the Italian goes to Brazil – will have to fit a new puzzle in the attack.

Bellingham is getting along very well now with Vinicius Junior, who opens up many spaces for him with his individual quality, ‘drags’ markers and allows him to reach the baseline. And he prowls around the front, Jude shows off his powerful shot. But this freedom of movement and The creation of a habitat to exploit his qualities may be called into question when Mbappé lands.


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