Where to Next for Jude?
With summer 2023 approaching, the forthcoming transfer window is expected to be yet another exorbitant one.
One player who could be on the move is a certain Jude Bellingham, with the England international expected to be subject to a mega-money transfer in the near future.
Bellingham may well have played his last game for Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League after the German club crashed out of Europe's primary club competition last week.
Die Borussen lost 3-1 to Chelsea, on aggregate, after the Blues overturned a first-leg deficit in their Round of 16 tie. Dortmund had claimed a narrow 1-0 win at Signal Iduna Park before Chelsea earned a hard-fought victory at Stamford Bridge, by two goals to nil.
The turnaround means Graham Potter's side are in the hat for the quarter-finals, with the two-time Champions League winners progressing to this stage for a third year in succession. Dortmund, meanwhile, have reached the last-eight just once in the last six seasons.
With Dortmund crashing out of the Champions League yet again, it begs the question whether Bellingham has represented the club for the last time in Europe.
The ex-Birmingham City talent is one of the most prized assets in world football and he is ultimately destined for a return to his native England – possibly as early as this summer.
Bellingham remains under contract until 2025, having agreed a five-year deal with Dortmund during summer 2020. With more than two years remaining on the deal, there is little to no doubt Dortmund will demand a sum north of £100million to part ways with the Stourbridge-born prodigy.
According to transfermarkt.com, the 19-year-old has a market value of €110million (£96,5million) though there is a feeling the fee may have receded slightly in the wake of Dortmund's exit from Europe's elite.
The final stretch of the current league campaign may prove pivotal towards any final fee for Bellingham, with Dortmund well and truly in the mix to claim a first Bundesliga title since 2012. With ten matches remaining, the men in yellow are just 2 points adrift leaders Bayern Munich.
A remarkable league triumph would undoubtedly see Bellingham's market value soar towards the €150million mark. Such a figure would make the midfielder the most expensive British player of all-time, and most likely the highest fee spent on a single player by a Premier League club.
In the event Bellingham does depart from Dortmund at the end of this season, he would officially join his new club on July 1, just two days after his 20th birthday. Should an agreement be reached before then, Bellingham may also become the most expensive teenage player in history.
Multiple clubs in the Premier League will fancy their chances of signing Bellingham, though Champions League qualification will be imperative in landing the sought-after Englishman.
Manchester City are nailed-on for a UCL spot and there is no logical reason why the reigning Premier League champions wouldn't be able to beat their rivals to Bellingham's signature.
Ilkay Gündogan is into the final months of his contract and it remains unclear whether the German midfielder will renew his stay at the Etihad Stadium.
With that said, there is a considerable chance Bellingham may follow in the footsteps of Gündogan in swapping his Dortmund shirt for Man City.
Erling Haaland played together with Bellingham for two years at Dortmund, and the free-scoring Norwegian forward could help in luring his ex-teammate to the blue half of Manchester.
Across town, Man United are cautiously optimistic of attracting Bellingham to Old Trafford.
United were believed to be in with a chance of signing the then-17-year-old from Birmingham in 2020, however Bellingham ultimately opted to move abroad with intentions of immediately gaining first-team minutes with Dortmund.
The Red Devils may have thought winning silverware under Erik ten Hag and overcoming Barcelona in the Europa League would have boosted their hopes of signing the future England captain, although that would have presumably taken a backseat following the 7-0 thumping by Liverpool earlier this month.
It is apparent that no top club requires a midfield overhaul quite as much as Liverpool do, and Bellingham ticks every box to be the poster boy of the next-gen at Anfield.
The Reds have lost 13 games in all competitions this season – their most under Jürgen Klopp and nine more defeats than they incurred all of last term.
The prospective addition of Bellingham would affix a much-needed stability in the centre of the park and he is seen as the ideal long-term solution to Liverpool's stale midfield.
Just last month, Klopp's men were considerably off the pace but five consecutive league wins and clean sheets placed them back in contention for Champions League football next season.
The Beatles, one of the English city's most renowned exports, famously released a track titled 'Hey Jude' in 1968 and, more than half a century later, Liverpudlians are hoping they'll be afforded the luxury of greeting Bellingham as one of their own come the summer.
The current Premier League standings suggest Chelsea are underdogs in the race for Bellingham. The Blues sit 11 points off 4th-placed Tottenham and their chances of securing a top-four finish are extremely slim.
Winning the Champions League this season would presumably be Chelsea's most direct and realistic route to signing Bellingham in the summer.
Although they splashed a staggering €120million on Enzo Fernandez in January, there is nothing to say that Todd Boehly and the Chelsea executive would be reluctant to fork out a similar fee for Bellingham in the summer.
Outside of the Premier League, Real Madrid are also tipped as one of the favourites for Bellingham's next club.
Regardless of who manages to secure the services of Bellingham, each of the remaining suitors will have to look elsewhere and pursue alternative options to the outrageously talented midfielder.
Jude Bellingham's next club will be ...