Wolverhampton Wanderers are reportedly hopeful of beating another Premier League rival to the signing of midfielder Jude Bellingham.
According to reports in print version of the Sun (January 12; pg 63), Wolves have been joined by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United in the race for the signing of the 16-year-old.
The story implies that the Red Devil’s are seriously weighing up making an offer, while also suggesting that Nuno Espirito Santo’s team are hopeful that they can beat the three-time European Cup winners to his signature.
While the piece claims that Wolves are preparing a bid, it was also quick to note that it might be a difficult transfer to get over the line due to the long list of admirers the player has.
If Wolves could bring Bellingham to the club, it would surely be a superb bit of business, however, they will want to do all they can to ensure that a move to a higher level doesn’t stifle his progress.
If we sign Bellingham, what would the best route for him be?
Keep him in the first-team squad, let him fight for his place
Send him back out on loan to keep his momentum
Let him work his way up the youth squads
Considering the forward is still just 16 and already has 23 Championship appearances to his name, he is currently on the road to success – but it hasn’t always worked out for young prospects at this level.
According to Transfermarkt, Bellingham is the sixth youngest starter to ever play in the Championship. With it being a fair while until his 17th birthday, he has the world at his feet, but while Wolves consider taking him to the big time, they should be mindful of some of the other players who have crippled to similar mistakes.
Amongst some of the other names on the list are Connor Wickham, John Bostock and Jonjo Shelvey, three players who were all destined to be stars, but three you could all argue made mistakes by the clubs they left for. Bostock’s career went downwards after failing to appear for Tottenham, Shelvey – despite a number of appearances for Liverpool at a high level – wasn’t able to reach the expectations people expected and Connor Wickham was sent on a number of loans before eventually leaving Sunderland.
It can be a shock to the system for a player to be a regular at 16 and then have to join a youth team again at a bigger club; one which can knock their confidence and make it difficult for them to get back to where they were.
If Wolves do pickup Bellingham, they should ensure that there is both a clear route for him to be playing football at least semi-regularly, or they should make sure he is on loan at a club where he is comfortable.
If Birmingham were keen to have him for another 18-months then it would be beneficial for all parties. However, as we’ve seen with Jack Clarke, the club might feel much less of an incentive to play the youngster once they know they don’t have him for good.