On Wednesday, The Athletic published the “Inside Story to how Borussia Dortmund beat Manchester United to Jude Bellingham.”
According to the story, the German club knew they had landed their man when he sent them a picture of himself watching BVB’s 4-0 win over rivals Schalke in a Borussia Dortmund shirt.
The story also goes into detail of the two clubs’ recruitment strategies. Both United and Dortmund had been monitoring the player for the past three years, with Mick Phelan personally attending a match against West Brom a few months ago.
While United rolled out the red carpet of stars such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona, the German side took a different approach. The club took a ‘long-game’ approach that had been successful in luring past young superstars to the club.
“The club regularly reached out to Jude and actively attempted to turn him into a bit of a BVB supporter” a source told The Athletic.
The news of Bellingham opting for Borussia Dortmund was a blow for United as he became the second exciting prospect to be stolen from United’s grasp by the Germans this year alone (Erling Haaland signed for BVB in January).
Critics will use the cases of Haaland and Bellingham as an argument against the current regime and their inability to close these deals, but this is far from that.
In years gone by it would have been unheard of for a young English talent to choose the Bundesliga over the Premier League, let alone Manchester United, but the landscape has changed. Borussia Dortmund’s ability to develop teenage talent and move them to the biggest clubs in the world is well documented, having developed players like Ousmane Dembele, Christian Pulisic, and Jadon Sancho in the last three years alone.
With that reputation in hand, the Black and Yellow have become the premier landing spot for teenage talent in Europe. Youngsters know they are going to get chances in the first team, and they know they are going to be given every chance to develop and shine.