Jude Bellingham: Zidane 2.0?

Why Bellingham might already be the best CM in the world 👑

Bellingham celebrating his 95th-minute winner against Getafe

Before Jude Bellingham came into the fold, Real Madrid had by far the best midfield in the world. The consistency and savvy of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos combined with the dynamism and versatility of Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, and Aurélien Tchouaméni have provided Carlo Ancelotti with a wealth of options that are simply unmatched by any other midfield on the planet.

Now, Los Blancos have added Bellingham, who, after just four matches, has established himself as the first name on Ancelotti's team sheet at just 20 years old. 🤯 

So how exactly does Bellingham do it? What attributes does he possess that have Madridistas forgetting the existence of Kylian Mbappé, already comparing Bellingham to Zinedine Zidane, and calling him a once-in-a-generation type player?


As cliché as it sounds, Bellingham could probably excel at any position on the pitch, with the exception of goalkeeper (although he is 6′1″). There really isn't much he can't do: 

  • Tackling like a center back? Yep.

  • Sprinting into the box and scoring with his head like a striker? Check.

  • Tracking back then transitioning from defense to attack like a defensive midfielder? You betcha.

  • Setting up teammates like a number 10? Sure can.

  • Taking on defenders and finishing with a cheeky chip like a winger? Easy as pie:

Bellingham's versatility, physicality, and technical well-roundedness is unprecedented at such a young age, and exactly why Florentino Pérez shelled out €103m for him this summer. 💰

Ancelotti has primarily deployed Bellingham as an attacking midfielder, but that's primarily been for personnel reasons as Madrid do not possess a true number 10. It's clear that Bellingham's best position is as a number 8, where he can leverage all of his exceptional assets in a box-to-box role.


Bellingham's turn radius is tighter than that of a Mazda Miata. The Birmingham City product likes to drift in between opposition lines, where he'll receive the ball with his back to goal and turn around with lightning-quick speed to drive forward into space. He'll also use this technique to drop a shoulder before turning in the other direction to lose a marker.

This is an underrated skill that not only protects the ball, but, when done proficiently, gives Bellingham that split-second advantage to find the right pass and Madrid's attackers the opportunity to exploit space before defenders recover. When done closer to goal, this can also create a shooting opportunity from hold-up play (first goal):

Timing of runs

Perhaps the attribute that makes Bellingham most dangerous is his eye for goal. After driving the ball through the midfield and finding a winger or full back out wide, Bellingham often makes darting runs to exploit space in the box. Whereas most midfielders would position themselves outside the 18 in such a scenario, Bellingham uses his athleticism and physicality to actively position himself for a cross.

Both his first and second goals against Almería illustrate this to perfection, but simply making these runs is not enough. Like a natural-born striker, Bellingham has the innate understanding of when and where exactly to make these runs, catching defenders sleeping or with their backs turned:  

Even when these runs don't work out, he is so active that his constant movement into dangerous areas drag defenders with him and open up space for his teammates. When Madrid have possession in their own half, it's not uncommon for Bellingham to make a darting run from deep, which at the vey least stretches the defense if it doesn't result in a sumptuous goal. 🔥

Making such runs is a testament to Bellingham's finishing ability. He is a capable finisher with both feet as well as his head, having already overperformed his 2.32 xG with five goals at Madrid. Bellingham is already breaking goalscoring records, becoming the youngest Englishman to score in six consecutive appearances in Europe's top leagues since 1992-93 with his game-winning goal against Getafe:

Bellingham has scored in each of his last six games for Dortmund

Bellingham’s physical qualities already make him a once in a generation type player. What remains to be seen is how he handles the expectations and pressure that come with playing for the biggest club in the world, but everything seems to indicate the 20-year-old is a mentality monster and should dominate La Liga for years to come.