Former Blues and Three Lions star Joe Cole reckons Borussia Dortmund’s wonderkid Jude Bellingham can become the greatest midfielder England has ever produced.
Jude Bellingham has all the attributes to become the finest midfielder England has ever produced.
Better than Paul Gascoigne, Frank Lampard, David Beckham and every other great before them who pulled on a Three Lions jersey. That’s the verdict of former Chelsea star Joe Cole, whose old club are pitted against Bellingham and his Borussia Dortmund side in the Champions League this week.
The two teams meet for the first leg of their last-16 tie in Germany on Wednesday, when the Blues will get an up-close look at the £150million-rated star they are keen to sign. Cole, who knows from experience how difficult it can be for a prodigious young talent to cope with the expectations placed upon him, said: “Jude has definitely got the ability to be right up there.
He was brilliant at the World Cup. He was so mature, he can do everything. He could end up standing on the shoulders of all those great players, he could surpass them. We’re certainly very blessed to have him in an England shirt.
“I was lucky enough to have a fantastic, long career. There are many, many players who have that burden and don’t make it, they can’t handle the pressure. You have to handle the expectation. You get to a level where the expectation is like a pressure cooker. Jude has already answered all of those questions because he has performed at the very highest level for Dortmund and England. He has come through that.
“Now it’s a question of: can he sustain it? Can he stay clear of injury? Can he continue to make marginal gains and improve? Can he add more goals? He has already proved he can handle the player. I could list hundreds of players who were the Next Big Thing and some ended up not even playing football. Everything that happens on a football pitch happens first between your ears.
Bellingham has got it. He’s got that maturity, that fight inside him. He’s one of those — as a manager, you put him on the pitch and you’re not concerned one bit.”
The clash between Bellingham and Chelsea’s World Cup-winning, £107m new boy Enzo Fernandez promises to be one of the focal points in midweek. Cole added: “Fernandez is every bit as good a passer of the ball as Jorginho was, but he’s mobile as well. He has more attributes.
Jorginho did a fantastic job for Chelsea but he has moved on. Fernandez won’t be playing in that style, he’ll be breaking from that position. He brings more, so I’m really excited to see him play and develop in a Chelsea shirt. The battle with Bellingham will be two of the best young midfielders, the best young players, up against each other. But I don’t think that’s where the game will be won and lost.
“It’s about the back three or four for Chelsea. First of all they have to defend well. But the crucial thing is can they play out through them to enable your Mikhailo Mudryks to get on the ball. You have to be brave and play through the lines and take risks. You can’t just be lumping it up because we haven’t got a Didier Drogba or Diego Costa. We have to play with what we’ve got.”