Former Birmingham City manager Pep Clotet has revealed that midfielder Jude Bellingham turned down a meeting with Manchester United when he was just 16 years old.
Bellingham has become one of the most sought-after midfielders in recent years and is expected to become the most expensive English player ever when he eventually leaves his current club, Borussia Dortmund, for his next challenge, which is likely to happen either this year or next year.
Bellingham has attracted interest from top clubs such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Manchester City, and all three are said to be confident about the respective pitches they have presented to the player and his representatives.
However, Dortmund are also keen to keep the young star and are preparing a contract that would make him their highest-paid player ever, including a 2024 release clause.
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According to Clotet, Bellingham refused to skip training to attend a meeting with Manchester United, even after being given permission by Birmingham City to do so. The young midfielder was clear that his priority was finding a club that would offer him a way to continue his development.
“One day, the CEO said, ‘Jude isn’t going to be here today, because we’ve allowed him to go to a meeting with Manchester United’,” Clotet told FourFourTwo.
“But Jude ended up refusing it so that he didn’t miss training. He was very clear to me that his priority would be a club who offered him a way to continue his development.”
Bellingham eventually did meet with Manchester United, where he was given a guided tour of the club’s training ground by Sir Alex Ferguson, Eric Cantona, and Bryan Robson, the latter later said of what happened: “After that meeting we thought he was coming to us.”
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However, Dortmund were able to offer more meaningful first-team opportunities much sooner, which appears to have been the deciding factor for Bellingham at that stage of his development.
Clotet added that Bellingham was not thinking about money, and Dortmund offered him a way to bed himself into the Bundesliga and play in Europe. Birmingham City negotiated the deal well, ensuring it was a win-win for all parties.
“He wasn’t thinking about money,” Clotet added.
“Dortmund offered him a way to bed himself into the Bundesliga and play in Europe. [Birmingham] did a brilliant negotiation and it was win-win for all parties.”
In conclusion, Bellingham’s decision to turn down a meeting with Manchester United at a young age ultimately led him to Dortmund, where he has been able to develop and become one of the most coveted midfielders in the world.
His future is uncertain, with top clubs vying for his signature.