Belling­ham’s £30m deal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By John Percy

Birm­ing­ham teenager Jude Belling­ham will be­come the most ex­pen­sive 17-year-old in foot­ball his­tory when he signs for Borus­sia Dort­mund. The mid­fielder un­der­went his med­i­cal yes­ter­day af­ter choos­ing the Bun­desliga giants over Manch­ester United. He is ex­pected to sign a five-year deal worth around £30mil­lion.

Jude Belling­ham is set to fi­nally com­plete his move to Borus­sia Dort­mund, with the fee of around £30mil­lion mak­ing him the most ex­pen­sive 17-year-old sign­ing in foot­ball his­tory.

Belling­ham un­der­went his med­i­cal in Ger­many yes­ter­day af­ter the Bun­desliga club per­suaded the Birm­ing­ham mid­fielder to choose them ahead of Manch­ester United and Chelsea.

He then flew back to Eng­land and is poised to play for strug­gling Birm­ing­ham in their Cham­pi­onship game at Pre­ston to­mor­row.

United had courted Belling­ham, with Sir Alex Ferguson, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Eric Can­tona un­der­stood to have been part of the sales pitch, but he has cho­sen to join Dort­mund as he be­lieves they rep­re­sent the best chance of pro­gress­ing his ca­reer. He is ex­pected to sign a five-year con­tract.

He will now have Eng­land in­ter­na­tional Jadon San­cho and Nor­we­gian striker Er­ling Haa­land as

team-mates, with Dort­mund head coach Lu­cien Favre ready to call on Belling­ham next sea­son as the club at­tempt to chal­lenge Bay­ern Mu­nich for the ti­tle.

Since mak­ing his Birm­ing­ham de­but at the age of 16 years and 38 days, the Stour­bridge teenager has emerged as one of the most cov­eted young play­ers in Europe. Equally com­fort­able as a cen­tral or de­fen­sive mid­fielder, Belling­ham can score and make goals, and his read­ing of the game is out­stand­ing for a player so young.

He now has 42 ap­pear­ances in the Cham­pi­onship, yet there has been a buzz around Belling­ham at the Mid­lands club since he was 12 years old. Birm­ing­ham’s youth coaches have al­ways known that Belling­ham would be the jewel in the academy crown: while study­ing at Pri­ory School in Edg­bas­ton, he once scored seven goals in a cup fi­nal. He made his de­but for the club’s Un­der-18s at 14.

Yet his re­mark­able progress over the past 12 months has taken even Birm­ing­ham’s staff by sur­prise. Birm­ing­ham would have re­ceived just min­i­mal com­pen­sa­tion if a move had been com­pleted be­fore his 17th birth­day, but any deal was put on hold to en­sure the club would re­ceive the fee.

Rapid rise: Birm­ing­ham City staff have been sur­prised by Jude Belling­ham’s progress

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