It took Jude Bellingham just 45 minutes to show he’s perfect for BVB
You suspect the person least surprised with how comfortable Jude Bellingham appeared on his Borussia Dortmund debut was Jude Bellingham himself.
Despite only just turning 17 at the end of June, Bellingham already seems so self-assured of his abilities, not just as a footballer but also as a person.
The midfielder thrived where more senior players have wilted amid the perma-chaos of life at Birmingham City and has turned down the easy option of joining Manchester United to watch Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes play, instead moving countries to develop – again, as a player and a person – at one of the most vibrant, exciting young sides in Europe.
Bellingham pulled on a Borussia Dortmund shirt for the first time on Wednesday, making his first appearance for the club in a pre-season friendly against Austrian outfit Altach.
Before you start groaning that Altach don’t sound like the toughest standard of opposition, we’d just like to remind you, again, that Bellingham is *seventeen*, and learning the ropes against teams in the Austrian Bundesliga didn’t do Erling Haaland any harm.
Deployed in a central role from the start, it took Bellingham just 12 minutes to show he’s already got to grips with one of the traits most commonly associated with his new club, intelligently spotting the opportunity to press his opposite number high up the pitch and perfectly executing his intervention to steal the ball and feed Haaland, who teed up Gio Reyna to cheekily roll the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the back of the net.
Bellingham spent most of the first half looking far too composed for his age, efficiently recycling possession, probing passes through the lines, working his way out of tight spaces and constantly moving to offer an option to his team-mates.
That may not sound very sexy, but for a teenager looking to impress on his first appearance after a high-profile transfer it only heightened the sense that this is a player competing far beyond his years.
Indeed, it wasn’t that Bellingham was reining in his talents but rather, as he showed with his role in the opener, ensuring he kept patient while waiting for the perfect opportunities to catch the eye.
The second of those moments came in first-half stoppage time after Reyna dribbled down the left wing and to the byline. His low cross into the box found Bellingham darting across the front post.
With his back to goal it was impossible to get a shot away. Without taking a touch, he backheeled the ball into the path of Haaland, who did what he does best in converting the chance into a goal.
For all the talent he possesses with the ball at his feet, once more it was the speed and clarity of thought which marked Bellingham as a unique talent.
It remains to be seen just how far his potential can take him, but if his first 45 minutes at Borussia Dortmund are anything to go by, we might find out even quicker than expected.