Man Utd and Dortmund? Birmingham boss tells Bellingham to ignore interest

The promising youngster has been backed to stay focused amid interest from some of the game’s biggest clubs

Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet urged teenage sensation Jude Bellingham to ignore interest from Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham is enjoying a brilliant debut season as a professional with the Blues, leading to the 16-year-old to be linked to Premier League giants United and Bundesliga powerhouse Dortmund.

The teenager reportedly toured United’s training ground on Monday, having been tipped to join fellow Englishman Jadon Sancho at Dortmund next season.

However, Spanish boss Clotet told Bellingham to stay focused on his task at hand with Championship outfit Birmingham.

“I always thought he is very mature and very focused – but he has to be,” Clotet told reporters.

“Because he cannot be thinking about other things than Birmingham City – and I am sure he is only thinking about Birmingham City.

“That’s the feeling I get from him, when I speak to him and work with him.”

Bellingham – who became Birmingham’s youngest ever player in August 2019 as he debut aged 16 years and 32 days against Portsmouth in the EFL Cup – has scored four goals in 32 Championship appearances this season.

When he netted against Stoke later that month, aged 16 and 63 days, he became the club’s youngest ever scorer.

Clotet is not the only one warning Bellingham of the dangers of leaving Birmingham too early, though. Jermain Pennant has echoed the coach’s thoughts.

“It’s difficult, it will be so hard for Jude to turn down a move to Manchester United,” the former Birmingham winger who joined up with Arsenal as a 15-year-old told talkSPORT when discussing a potential move to Manchester United.

“But is it going to halt his career, at 16? Ole is not going to be throwing him into the starting line-up, he will be in the squad but he won’t be starting. How many games is he going to play?

“Now he is a regular at Birmingham. Birmingham is in the Championship, not League One, not League Two, the Championship, it’s good football.

“The Championship is a very difficult league, more demanding than the Premier League – and he’s 16 and he’s holding his weight, he is putting in tackles, he’s strong.

“When I saw him, I was thinking: ‘No way is he 16, what has he been taking, can I have some of that?’

“He is skilful, he is box to box, he puts in challenges. You have either got one or the other, skilful players don’t want to tackle, I didn’t tackle.

“He is 16, he is diving in, he is putting his foot in and he’s not scared – and he’s got skill as well.

“He has got ability as well, he is both footed, scoring goals, creating goals, he is a fantastic talent and he’s only going to get bigger.

“He is tall now but he has still got to grow to 21 so he is going to get bigger, wiser, quicker, stronger, he is a fantastic talent.

“My advice would be to stay at Birmingham for a season, at least for the rest of this season, continue playing, learning more, the trade of demanding first-team football in the Championship and it will do wonders for his career moving forward.

“Rather than going to Man Utd and hitting a brick wall, going from ‘I have been playing every week being a young starlet, to now just floating about training – when am I going to play?’”