Jude Bellingham Zinedine ZidaneGetty/GOAL

‘The player I see most in him is Zidane’ – Bellingham compared to French icon by academy chief

  • Teenage midfielder starred at World Cup
  • Currently on the books at Dortmund
  • Linked with leading clubs across Europe

WHAT HAPPENED? Andres Manzano is the man to have suggested that a teenage midfielder of the present is cut from the same cloth as a former Juventus and Real Madrid superstar. Manzano got a good look at Bellingham in his younger years, as he worked with UE Cornella during a period in which they had a collaboration agreement in place with Birmingham City, and feels a player always destined to reach the top is now following in the footsteps of 1998 World Cup winner Zidane.

WHAT THEY SAID: Manzano, who has helped to develop the likes of Jordi Alba and David Raya in his role as an academy director, has told the Daily Mail: “The player I see most in him is Zidane. In part it’s the versatility. He’s capable of playing central midfield, or wide; in a 4-2-3-1 or in 4-3-3 – he is somewhere between a number 8 and a number 10. He’s an all-terrain midfielder with a lot of personality and he is so good on the ball but he also has that size, that enviable physique. I don’t like comparisons but if you ask me that’s the one I would make. He reminds me of Zidane, a player who could score, assist, and do a lot of things with the ball and without the ball. England fans are lucky because they have a player who is going to dominate for years.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bellingham’s exploits for Borussia Dortmund and England have led to him being linked with big-spending clubs across Europe, but Manzano can appreciate why the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City may hold greater appeal to the 19-year-old than Real Madrid. He added: “I would advise him to listen to his people because up until now they have always made the right call. In my opinion the Premier League is the best in the world and I’m sure as an ambitious player he wants to play in the best league in the world and in his own country.”

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Jude Bellingham England 2022Getty Images

Jude Bellingham Borussia Dortmund 2022-23Getty

Zinedine Zidane World Cup 2006 FranceGetty

WHAT NEXT? Bellingham is tied to a contract at Dortmund through to 2024, but is expected to be the subject of sizeable bids in upcoming windows as heavyweight outfits from the Premier League seek to return him to his homeland.