On June 29, three years after the turn of the century, hailing from a West Midlands town, the son of Denise and Mark Bellingham, Jude Victor William Bellingham, was born. Jude fell in love with football from a young age. Early in his childhood, the now English international joined Stourbridge’s academy. A few years later, he’d join Birmingham City’s u-8s. Throughout his ten years at the club, Jude constantly shone the brightest. Year after year, the young Englishman was ahead of schedule. At 14, he’d play for the u-18s. A year later, he’d get promoted to the u-23s, at 16, a full-time first-teamer. Six months since his first team debut, rumors about a potential move started to spiral out of control. Reports stated Dortmund rejected United’s £20m bid during the winter window. For the next seven months, despite the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the EFL awarded Bellingham the Championship Apprentice of the Year and EFL Young Player of the Season in England.
July 20, 2020—-Jude Bellingham completes a £25m + add-ons (Sky Sports) move to German giants Borussia Dortmund.
For the next three seasons, Bellingham would blossom into one of the finest young midfielders on the planet. During his time in Germany, he’d be named Bundesliga Newcomer of the Season, be part of the Bundesliga Team of the Season twice, and even win Bundesliga Player of the Season in his final year at the club. Outside of Germany, Bellingham would be awarded Goal’s NXGN in 2022 while finishing runner-up for both the Kopa Trophy and Golden Boy in 2021—Barcelona starlet Pedri cleanly swept the awards.
June 7, 2023—Jude Bellingham completes a €103m + €31m (Borussia Dortmund) move to Real Madrid.
Dortmund Basic Principles For this section, I had a conversation with a Dortmund and Madrid fan (Twitter: @sustainedpress).
For the majority of matches I scouted, Terzić deployed a 4-1-4-1 base
Terzić’s side was flexible in build-up, using a variety of first-line bases: 2+1, 3+1, and 4+1. Malen’s instinct to narrow often left room for Wolf to advance higher up the wide channel. Hummels, Süle, and Can were the base of the build-up, while Guerreiro often aided them. Bellingham assisted build-up through his dynamic occupation of space—something I’ll discuss more in-depth later in the article
The two interiors would occupy a vertical line similar to the two center-backs, although slightly wider or narrower. This is to provide vertical passing lanes behind the opposition’s second line. Guerreiro and
Wolf de-compact the opposition’s first and second line horizontally. At the same time, Haller provided an outlet through his hold-up play, looking to knock down second balls into an interior with a forward-facing view or Adeyemi and Malen on the run. Dortmund’s ultimate goal is to find one of the wingers free on the wing to execute wide combinations or have the winger in isolation. Dortmund ranked second in the Bundesliga for 1v1s and fifth Bundesliga for crosses attempted (Wyscout).
Dortmund’s central play relies on proximity relations between the narrow front three. The German side often looks to play 1-2s and execute third-man combinations; the narrow front three pins the opposition backline, creating space to move the ball wide or release a runner in behind on the far side.
Out-of-possession, Dortmund set up in a zonal 4-1-4-1 mid-block, prioritizing spacial coverage over duel engagements.
When Dortmund do press, which they do a lot through their various triggers, they compact the midfield by creating a diamond—created through the ball-side winger narrowing and the far-side interior stepping up—looking to guide the opposition wide. It should be noted that the 6 is ball-oriented; however, if the opponent uses a 10, Dortmund’s 6 can step up man-to-man. Once the ball is played wide, Dortmund trap by having the fullback step up and the ball-side winger press while the rest of the team shifts across.
Here’s an example from their match against Cologne (H)—not the same XI:
Bellingham’s ball-striking has excellent foundations. He strikes the ball with good power and often places the ball well.
Bellingham’s shooting mechanics:
· Non-shooting foot planted on toes towards the target
· Angles his body in the opposite direction target
· Shifts weight from back to front
· Shooting leg bend back more than 90°
· Arms used to support non-shooting foot
· Shooting leg bends in follow-through at the knee
· Studs facing net in follow through https://twitter.com/MadridRoleComps/status/1667917627816132608?s=20
There are two improvements Bellingham can make, and both are related to his follow-through: have laces face net rather than studs, and the knee should be straight.
This section is purely mechanical, as I’ll talk about the applications of his ball-striking later.
Ball-carrying and Dribbling
About five minutes into watching Bellingham ball-carrying clips, I was left disappointed. Not because it isn’t good, but rather not as good as advertised for reasons I’ll discuss shortly.
I want to start with some of the mechanics behind Bellingham’s ball-carrying. Bellingham carries with an upright posture. His frame, paired with mechanics, means he doesn’t have a low center of gravity, which makes his balance relatively poor. Especially considering his physical profile should allow him to ride challenges well. Bellingham also dribbles head up, although when accelerating, he sometimes alters his field of vision to get a better view of the ball and his feet. However, thanks to his ankles and lower leg muscles, Bellingham can quickly power himself off the ground when losing balance. He’s even a relatively good dribbler on the ground.
The English midfielder gets good contact with the ball as well. He can push the ball into his intended target with both feet—although he often dribbles with the right—and push the ball with the sole, the inside of the foot, the outside, and laces. However, his first touch does tend to be a bit on the heavy side.
Bellingham has good stride variance in his dribbles but struggles to alter his strides once he gets going. This issue is most noticeable in 20-meter-plus carrying sequences as he initially explodes into the open space but then struggles to slow down when approaching a defender.
Bellingham’s subpar step count makes it difficult to re-adjust his line of motion—mainly an issue when being chased from behind or the side.
In the above photo, the opposition closes on Bellingham from behind on the England international’s left side. However, poor step placement and an inability to quickly alter his steps led to him being disposed. This goes hand in hand with Bellingham’s struggles to re-orient his body—apart from a lateral angle—when carrying the ball.
In duels and upon reception under pressure, I noticed that Bellingham looked to use the opposition’s momentum against them.
In the above clip, Coman presses Bellingham going in a straight line toward his own goal. Bellingham takes advantage of this by taking a touch to the side and away from Bayern’s goal. He is eventually fouled, but Dortmund plays on with the advantage.
To manipulate the opponent’s momentum (i.e. give the opponent a false sense of where he’s going), Bellingham uses shoulder drops and faints—done using shoulders and hips.
To connect back to some early points (steps and strides), Bellingham does struggle to attack the opponent’s momentum once he accelerates.
Shoulder drop → twist torso to shift weight → change directions
In terms of reception, I’d classify Bellingham as sub-optimal. His reception is slow compared to elite midfielders, for example, say Pedri. He also lacks a small radius when turning. This isn’t an issue when receiving with space, but it could be a weakness when receiving under pressure. Stylistically, Jude likes to let the ball run and re-orient himself rather than doing both simultaneously via a half-turn—although he does use half-turns when receiving in ample space.
When receiving behind the ball with a forward-facing view, Bellingham usually aims to attack the space. If there is no space, he attacks the defender’s momentum. If there isn’t time, he uses a roulette. https://twitter.com/MadridRoleComps/status/1666245791546068994
You can see in the clip his instinct to attack the defender’s momentum. Although in this scenario, he lost the duel and had a side-on orientation rather than forward-facing.
In tight spaces, Bellingham uses a variety of faints, croquetas, and roulettes. In these tight spaces, his issues with step placement shine the brightest. Serviceable, but nowhere near elite.
He also likes to shield off defenders using his back but struggles to keep his balance in shoulder-to-shoulder engagements—as discussed earlier; this is an issue related to his center of gravity more than core strength.
Bellingham’s dribbling isolation dribbling out wide could also use some work. This usually isn’t necessary for midfielders, but it should be improved, considering how often Bellingham attacks vacated space in more expansive areas (more on this later). He doesn’t have much of an issue when receiving in stride, as he can use the usual faints and attack the defender’s momentum. It’s more of a problem when receiving like a winger—on toes with static positioning and a side-on orientation. This is because he can’t use his usual dribbling techniques. All this says for me is Bellingham is better off attacking the space in transitions and receiving the ball quickly after a rotation rather than being part of a system that constantly rotates him into these wider areas.
The data behind Bellingham’s ball-carrying is outstanding.
Bellingham’s ball-carrying and dribbling are very good, but it isn’t as good as advertised. At the moment, his ball-carrying is a tool to escape pressure and release into open space. His issues with altering his strides and steps mean he isn’t the player I’d want running at defences. I’d say he’s a tier below Camavinga and slightly ahead of Valverde. As for Modrić, nowhere close, especially in tight spaces.
Now this is where most of Bellingham’s weaknesses as an interior lie. By ‘possession,’ I mean his build-up, passing, positioning, and retention. His play in the final third will go under ‘final third’ in the next section.
To begin, I’d like to talk about Bellingham’s passing.
The mechanics behind Bellingham’s short passing:
· Non-passing foot planted—toes aimed at target
· Opens up inside of the foot fully
· Body opens up on the passing side—slight twist
· 90° backward knee bent—in line with the target
· Follow through with passing foot—straight for long periods but wonders off slightly near the end
· Leans back when passing
The above picture shows Bellingham’s planted non-passing foot, the slight twist in his orientation, and the opening of the inside of his foot.
I find Bellingham’s short passing to be crisp—rarely bounces off the ground—and to have suitable weight. His mechanics are sound but have two issues. The first issue is the passing foot wanders off toward the end, as previously stated. This gives his passes drags:
· Right-footed in-out pass in the right half-space—drags forwards
· Left-footed in-out pass in the right half-space—pulls backwards
· Right-footed in-out pass in the left half-space—pulls backwards
· Left-footed in-out pass in the right half-space—drags forwards
This issue can likely be fixed through repetition in training. The second issue is more fundamental and less likely to be ironed out: leaning back. By leaning back when playing a pass, Bellingham inefficiently transfers energy. This is why his passes can lack speed. However, all athletes have abnormalities in their biomechanics that don’t adhere to scientific principles, such as Bellingham leaning back when making a short pass. Bellingham’s way around this is to alter the amount of power he puts into his swing (leg). Eventually, throughout the years, Bellingham has gotten used to this and naturally adjusts the amount of energy.
Regarding the more ‘classic’ technical elements, Bellingham lacks variety in his passes, often opting for the same mechanics and type of pass
orient his body on the move, which usually means his passes off carries are played in the same line as the line of motion he was running in. If the passing angle is against the carry, Bellingham goes cross-body.
His trivela passes have potential in them. He has the curve done to a tee but lacks the right weight and height on them. Perhaps Modrić will teach him a thing or two. The trivela is only one of the many slick lay-off passes Bellingham plays: passes with the sole, quick toe punt, and drag backs, to name a few.
In terms of first-time passes, most of the mechanics remain the same. The main difference is in his orientation, where he now angles himself towards where he’s receiving the ball, then twists his torso to play the pass.
This clip doesn’t necessarily show the orientation as he plays the first-time pass in line to where he receives. However, it does show mechanical similarities.
Some of the data behind his passing
Bellingham’s medium and long-range passing mechanics are sound like his short passing. According to FBRef, he ranks in the 68th+ percentile in long-passing metrics and the 44+ percentile in medium-range metrics. The data might not be in his favour, but the foundations are there.
His mechanics look something like this:
· Initially leans forward → leans backwards
· Angles himself toward the target
· Non-passing footed planted on toes
· Arms providing support for the non-passing foot
· Passing foot crosses over non-passing foot
Given the contact area between the inside of the foot and laces, Bellingham’s long passes look as if they’re chipped. This little fact adds a lot of loft to his long passes. It also causes the ball to lose some pace.
The most significant issues with Bellingham’s medium and long-range passing is a lack of weight and accuracy. Mechanically, his poor transfer of energy—which seems to be a reoccurring issue with his passes—is likely the cause for the inconsistent weight on his medium and long-range passing. As for the problems with accuracy, it can be attributed to poor orientation/alignment.
Another thing about Bellingham’s passing is the tendency to play passes into the wide channels.
His communication via the pass is also quite good.
In terms of retention, it’s another aspect Bellingham must improve upon. I feel as if Bellingham’s temperament is in relation to the game state. Dortmund play quick, Bellingham looks for vertical and direct access. Dortmund play at a slower tempo, and Bellingham plays a good amount of wall passes—has the tendency to take a touch or two before playing a wall pass—and begins to drop into deeper areas to get more involved in build-up.
On the topic of build-up, as well known, Bellingham isn’t a Kroos or Modric in this sense. In Dortmund’s 2+1, 3+1, or 4+1 build-up, Madrid’s latest signing is positioned in more advanced areas. However, he is willing to drop deep and aid build-up with intelligent dynamic occupation of vacant spaces. Though, in more urgent game states, he prefers to stay positioned high and between the lines.
Also, one odd thing I noticed about Jude is that he tends to follow his passes sometimes, which causes redundancy.
He’s particularly good at using blind-side movement and going against the defence’s momentum. It’s something he also uses when positioned higher up and between the lines.
When playing against man-oriented defences, Bellingham uses double movement to free himself from his marker.
The biggest issue with Bellingham, which he also has out-of-possession, is infrequent scanning. This issue is most noticeable in two situations:
1. Defender attacks from blind-side
2. Receiving under pressure and with his back to the goal between the line
He also takes up redundant space and makes redundant runs often. Furthermore, there is a lack of appreciation for block-manipulation and third-man combinations from Bellingham.
Bellingham’s best work ahead of the ball comes in transition. The English midfielder is potent at attacking vacated space:
· Attacking vacated space by wingers
· Running behind the opposition’s defensive line
· Attacking vacated space by a defender stepping up or wide
Putting everything together, Bellingham has a solid foundation in possession. His passing mechanics are clean, although he could work on his medium and long-range mechanics. Furthermore, in the section about ball-carrying, his foundations when driving with the ball are also fantastic. But a lack of scanning, immature movement, and low influence in build-up makes a raw prospect in possession. Positionally, Bellingham played in the left half-space before being used more in the right half-space under Terzić this season. A lack of angle bias means that he can develop on either side. However, considering Camavinga and Tchouaméni’s natural preferences and the dynamics of a Fran García and Vini Jr right side, he’ll likely be developed in the right half-space in Madrid.
In the final third, Bellingham has immense potential. Although lacking the eye for the final pass like Kevin De Bruyne, his movement and combination play provide a tremendous threat.
Starting with his combination play and passing in the final third, Bellingham’s creativity concerning the final third can be improved upon vastly.
Starting with the English International’s through balls. The mechanics of Bellingham’s through balls are similar to his short passes:
· Non-passing foot planted on toes
· Leans back
· Fully opens up the inside of the passing foot
· Passing leg is extended fully once the ball is hit
Thus, many mechanical issues with his short passing carry into his through balls. He struggles to thread the ball between tight spaces due to the drag in his passes. Moreover, he also struggles with weight due to poor energy transfer.
Here is the data behind his through passes.
Bellingham also completes a high number of deep completions. He usually does this through his whipped balls into the box—will be touched upon more when I talk about his crossing.
Bellingham’s combination play isn’t just limited to one-twos. It expands into reading and executing the final third patterns. Although not optimal, looking at his pass-to-assist and third assists, one can see the effectiveness of his combination play.
In the above clip, you can see Bellingham’s ability to read and execute attacking patterns. First, he moves slightly right to open the passing lane, then spots the receiver with his back to goal, and the receiver eventually plays the third man.
In the above clip, you can see Bellingham’s ability to read and execute attacking patterns. First, he moves slightly right to open the passing lane, then spots the receiver with his back to goal, and the receiver eventually plays the third man.
In terms of executing outside of patterns, at the moment, Bellingham is often limited to finding a runner.
My biggest concern with Bellingham’s combination play at Madrid is whether his interpretation of time-space is good enough to execute the spontaneous proximity patterns for which Ancelotti’s Madrid is renowned—mainly down to his vision and mental mapping.
In terms of Bellingham’s crosses, they’ve got nice whip and speed on them. However, the lack of placement and accuracy on his crosses let him down.
The mechanics of Bellingham’s crosses:
· Not crossing foot planted on toes and aimed towards target
· Orients body towards target
· Crossing foot bent back more than 90°,
· Inside of crossing foot parallel to the ball
· Follow through of crossing foot angled towards target
Bellingham’s accuracy can be improved by adjusting his body before crossing so he can follow through better with his crossing leg.
Here’s the data behind his crossing
Here’s Bellingham’s assist data:
In terms of goal threat, this is where Bellingham stands out in his generation of midfielders. As I’ve discussed his ball-striking earlier in the article, I’ll focus more on his movement.
Bellingham’s box-crashing is second to none. Madrid’s latest signing looks to make late runs into open space to receive cutbacks. His shot map shows this.
In terms of movement when already in the box, he uses double movement to attack the six-yard box. He’s also got a basketball-esque trait of using screeners to free himself from a marker or switch into a mismatch when he’s set in the box rather than attacking the box. Furthermore, his use of attacking the opposition’s blind side at the back post is top-tier.
One improvement I’d like to see is using Dortmund’s zone gravity to free himself and move back into the cutback zone when initially positioned around the six-yard box.
Watch how Bellingham slips into the defender’s blind side in the above clip.
On top of that, Bellingham takes a lot of touches in the box compared to most interiors.
Overall, in the final third, Bellingham’s potential is immense. I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t consistently score ten to 15 league goals a season in his prime. His movement in the final third is top-tier, but his final ball needs improvements. Currently, Bellingham is reliant on patterns of play in terms of
creativity. His vision and mental mapping let him down when he is required to create his own play—an area of concern under Ancelotti at Madrid. Mechanically, like most things, he’s sound. But a few issues with his follow-through in crosses and weight transfer in through balls disappoint.
Defensively, Bellingham is a good dueler, but his reading of the game isn’t the best.
I’ll start with his defensive positioning.
Bellingham prioritizes spacial coverage over engaging in duels. In Dortmund’s 4-1-4-1, Bellingham defends zonally at the right center-midfielder position. However, he has no problem stepping into the first line or dropping into the last line. His timing of stepping up and dropping is poor due to not reading the game the best. When stepping up into the first line of pressure, the most significant fault in Bellingham’s game is the poor use of cover shadow. This, paired with his duelling qualities, makes me think he’d be misused if part of the first line of pressure. When dropping into the last line, his main weaknesses are cutbacks and defending of crosses (both positionally and aerial duels). He also tends to follow the ball once engaging in a duel. https://twitter.com/MadridRoleComps/status/1667921479730712576?s=20
The above clip shows the issues with Bellingham’s defensive positioning. First, he’s late to mark on the out-in pass. He should engage man-to-man in this situation. Second, you can see the infrequency in scanning, particularly in the box entry from Wolfsburg.
Bellingham’s defensive positioning’s two most prominent weaknesses are hands-down blind-side movement and poor angle coverage. This comes down to Bellingham’s scanning.
1. His scans are infrequent
2. Checks sides but rarely checks behind him
Another thing I noticed is Bellingham’s poor work rate in tracking back during transitional moments. However, Bellingham does have the ability to cover ground through his long strides. https://twitter.com/MadridRoleComps/status/1667922633223024640?s=20
In terms of his aggression, he’s got a good temperament with reference to duel engagement. His issues with aggression lie mainly with his reading of the game. His jumps are usually poorly timed—steps up without teammates backing the press plus poor timing can lead to a pass splitting the press.
Pressing triggers used by Bellingham:
· Poor reception
· Back to goal—Bellingham can attack through blind-side
· Backwards pass
Another thing, is Bellingham’s recovery after mistimed jumps is poor.
He uses various techniques to intercept the ball: sliding tackles, controlling the ball and bringing it down, headers, etc. However, if Bellingham were to become a better scanner and reader of the game, He’d become a far superior interceptor of the ball. Perhaps even reaching Tchouaméni numbers-wise. https://twitter.com/MadridRoleComps/status/1667929822100692992
In terms of tackling, again, the foundations are there.
Standing tackles mechanics:
· Non-tackling foot planted on toes
· Use of arms to support
· Tackling leg extends, almost like a lunge
· Leans back, then shifts weight toward the open
· Sweeping motion
Sliding tackles mechanics:
· Wide stance when entering → leans to one side and drops
· Non-tackling bent together
· Sweeps with tackling foot
The main issue with his tackles is timing. He also tends to go for the ball again when mistiming his first attempt, which often leads to fouls.
Here’s an example of that:
His best attribute off the ball is duelling. Bellingham doesn’t needlessly lunge into tackles. Instead, he prefers to close angles. Although, as aforementioned, he can improve upon his angle work.
· Low center of gravity
· Back arched forward
· Jockeying on toes
· Use of ‘bounce’
The most considerable advancements Bellingham can make to his duelling abilities would be using his physical profile more and not being as susceptible to body manipulation from the opposition.
Bellingham’s duel data
With improvements to his positioning and reading of the game, Bellingham could be an excellent player out-of-possession. His tackling mechanics are clean, and the variety in his interceptions is lovely.
Aerially, Bellingham leaves a lot to be desired. Despite his 6’1” frame, the English international doesn’t impose himself in the air. However, based on his physical stature, he will still likely win five out of ten duels.
Starting with the mechanics of his jumps, Bellingham possesses decent leap through his lower body muscles (particularly his calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps). However, I suspect with better mechanics, he could improve his jumping reach by 20-30%. The main issues with his jumping mechanics lie in his base, how he transfers energy, and his use of arms. All three of these are fixable considering the strength his lower muscles possess.
The mechanics of his jumps are usually along these lines:
· Squats slightly down—sub-optimal
· Legs slightly behind torso—sub-optimal
· Legs to push upwards
· Arms to support land
It may be hard to spot due to the camera angle, but this clip shows many mechanical issues related to Bellingham’s leap. Two issues particularly stand out. First, he possesses quite a narrow base, although this may be forgiven due to the context. Secondly, the lack of use of his arms to propel his body upward.
My favourite part of Bellingham’s jumping mechanics is his ability to seamlessly re-orient himself mid-air. Something he uses to re-adjust when miscalculating the initial landing spot of the ball. Although on the subject of calculating the landing spot of the ball, this is one of Bellingham’s stronger suits in aerial duels.
Regarding the technical details with reference to Bellingham’s aerial ability, an abundance of work is also required. The biggest issue with Bellingham’s aerial ability is poor contact with the ball. Once more, two problems cause this: mistiming of jumps (usually early rather than late) and moving his head down. These two problems cause Bellingham to hit the ball with the top of his head rather than his forehead.
The mistiming of Bellingham’s headers is on full show in the clip. Although, he timed his jump late in the clip rather than the usual early jump.
In an ideal world, the cross supplies most of the power while the header redirects the ball. A, Bellingham looks to add too much power into his headers, leading to a loss of precision. B, Bellingham struggles to redirect the ball apart from a straight-ahead (90°) angle.
Physically, Bellingham uses his body, mostly his back, to shield opponents off and misguide them away from the ball.
The data backs the eye test. Bellingham is a flawed dueler in the air, but aspects like his physical profile give him superiority over most, leading to him winning a decent number of aerial duels.
I’d also like to add that Bellingham’s ability to bring and/or lay off in the air ball when acting as an outlet (both with his head and feet) is subpar.
Bellingham’s aerial ability is average. However, the Madridista has the tools to improve vastly—already, his good frame allows him to win decent aerial duels. At Madrid, I’d reckon he’ll be their third-best midfielder aerially after Camavinga and Tchouaméni, somewhere in a tier with Federico Valverde.
Standing at 6’1” and 165 pounds, Bellingham’s physical and mental profile is another strength in his game.
Physically, he can pull off a high number of high-intensity sprints a game, and possesses excellent strength in his legs and upper body, although core strength can be improved. His acceleration without the ball is also great, but decelerating is where he struggles due to the lack of variance in his strides. His orientation is fantastic—straight posture. Improvements to his core strength and balance to better ride challenges are the central areas of improvement for Jude.
As for recovery, he usually uses the out-of-possession zonal marking scheme of Dortmund to recover.
Now for the exciting part. One concern about Bellingham has been his knee. So, because of this, I dived deep into his workload and injury history.
In terms of injuries, Bellingham doesn’t have a worrying record
In terms of workload, this is where things are more concerning. At a young age, Bellingham has a lot of miles on his legs.
· Average 76.64 minutes per game throughout his career
· Position average is 74.7
· Player average is 78.3
· 51% of his matches he’s played 90+ minutes
· This season played an average of 89.02 minutes per game
· This season 80% of his matches he’s played 90+ minutes
Rest and Recovery:
· Average 145.46 hours of rest and recovery
· Position average is 184.9
· Player average is 196.5
· Days of rest (career)
· <3: 15.7%
· <4: 41.3%
· <5: 53.4%
· <6: 59.6%
· This season average 129.78 hours of rest and recovery
· Days of rest (seasons)
· <3: 19.0%
· <4: 40.5%
· <5: 59.5%
· <6: 69.0%
· 73KM travelled (career)
· Equal to 1.82 times around the world
· 6,748 minutes of travelling
· 1342 out of 1500 players in terms of international away trip time
At the moment, I profile Bellingham as an advanced 8. Considering Madrid’s current squad and shape up for the next few years, it’s likely to be in the right half-space. His dynamic occupation in deeper phases can be used in build-up patterns—Kevin De Bruyne shifting wide to receive. In the final third, he’s best used as a box crasher. With improvements to his positioning ahead of the ball, he could become more of a classic interior, but for now his play between the lines isn’t good enough. Out-of-possession, at Madrid, he’s likely to be used as a right center-midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 or as a second striker or right-midfielder in a 4-4-2. The former fits him better. Ceiling wise, I see Bellingham to be lower than Camavinga and Pedri, but higher than the likes of Enzo Fernandez, Federico Valverde, and Gavi.
Bellingham at Madrid: