Jude Bellingham has fast become the nucleus of Real Madrid’s team and has earned no shortage of plaudits ahead of first El Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday
- Jude Bellingham starred for Real Madrid in their draw with Sevilla on Saturday
- The 20-year-old is already drawing comparisons with some of the club’s greats
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Coming Up!’
In the eighth minute at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Jude Bellingham put the ball in the back of the Sevilla net and stood with his arms spread wide doing his trademark celebration in front of the home support.
Fifteen seconds earlier, the referee had blown the whistle for an earlier foul but amid the cacophony of noise, the players played on,
‘Tonto’ chanted the raucous home support repeatedly, to mock Bellingham. In Spanish, the phrase ‘tonto’ means silly – as if to say Bellingham was a fool but all evening, he was a step ahead of his opposition.
In those opening eight minutes, the England midfielder had already been fouled three times and Sevilla’s game plan to stop La Liga’s starboy, under their new manager Diego Alonso was clear to see.
With Sergio Ramos back in their ranks, how else to try to nullify the most in-form player in the world and given the reluctance of the referee to use his cards until the second half, it worked.
Jude Bellingham again showcased his prodigious talent in Real Madrid’s draw with Sevilla
20-year-old looked to have given his side an early lead before it was ruled out by the referee
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At one point, Ramos seemingly elbowed Bellingham and five of Seville’s players were cautioned in the second half with three of those coming for fouls on Bellingham.
This was just the third match that Bellingham has failed to score in all season but yet again his display showed why he is already so revered and feared.
Of all of his attacking players, Bellingham was the only one that Carlo Ancelotti didn’t substitute in the second half. After all, one of the key reasons for Ancelotti’s change in system in the summer was to get the best out of his £113m summer signing.
On the ball, Bellingham was a delight as ever, regularly driving at the opposition and looking like a man with all the time in the world in those tight spaces.
An ability that is all the more remarkable to witness in the flesh, given his stature.
He makes the game look easy, with the expert use of his body to glide past players while maintaining his balance and off the ball, he is a talisman constantly demanding more from himself and his teammates.
His leadership through action came into the fray in the dying stages when with tempers rising and Vinicius Junior furious with refereeing decisions, Sevilla’s time wasting and what later emerged as ‘xenophobic and racist behaviour’ from Seville fans, it was the 20-year-old Bellingham there to pull the Brazilian away from a confrontational scene, put an arm around his shoulder and calm him down.
Bellingham and Vinicius Junior’s friendship off the pitch is match by their chemistry on it
The former Dortmund star also embraced Los Blancos legend Sergio Ramos after the game
Sevilla quickly issued a condemnation statement shortly after but this was another sad episode for Spanish football and tarnished a terrific football game.
With the El Clasico on Saturday, Bellingham recognised the need to stop his teammate and his friend from potentially getting sent off.
Theirs is an elite relationship that has blossomed over the last year. When Bellingham was at Dortmund, the Brazilian would regularly message him on Instagram to join and sources say that the duo are often seen having dinner together, with Vinicius regularly driving the Englishman to training.
They are the new generation of Galacticos with Bellingham calling Vinicius the ‘best in the world’ and the Brazilian returning the compliment by saying that Bellingham was ‘born to play for Real Madrid.’
Within months, he has become the nucleus of Ancelotti’s Madrid. Nacho Fernandez may be the club captain but the Englishman provides the heartbeat and is lauded as a future Real Madrid skipper.
To truly understand the scale of Bellingham’s instant impact in Madrid, you must look at some of the Galacticos before him. The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo all joined the club in their mid to late 20s. Bellingham was 19 when he signed in June and is already earning comparisons to the great Alfredo Di Stefano within Madrid circles.
In the West End, the play by James Graham called ‘Dear England’ opened earlier this month and wonderfully depicts the story of how Gareth Southgate has given the England team an identity again, bringing smiles to people’s faces and perhaps crucially, making the environment one that players want to be a part of.
There is an emphasis on the number that each player represents for England in the all-time charts to highlight what playing for the national team should mean.
With the Euros on the horizon Bellingham’s influence on Gareth Southgate’s team cannot be understated
Bellingham could well be the nation’s greatest footballing talent since the late Sir Bobby Charlton
On Saturday, number 767 passed away – Sir Bobby Charlton was arguably the greatest English footballer of all-time.
Perhaps in number 1258, England may just have their best talent since Sir Bobby and Southgate knows that come next summer, his team and system should be built around Bellingham to give England their best chance of ending their tournament hoodoo.
A trophy is all that is missing now from Southgate’s tenure and with Bellingham, England will head to Germany in June as genuine contenders.
When the final whistle went in Seville, the first person to come over to Bellingham was Ramos – a man who spent 16 years at Madrid and won 22 trophies.
The front cover of Marca said ‘Intimate enemy’ on Saturday referring to Ramos’s first game against Real Madrid since 2005 and after an engrossing battle, the pair shared a conversation and probably a good luck message from Ramos ahead of next week’s Clasico against Barcelona, when the eyes of the world will be on Bellingham.
One thing is for sure. He will take that challenge in his stride, just like he has done with everything else in his career so far.
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