Real Madrid have finalised a deal to buy Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund for €103 million (£88.5 million) plus add-ons. The England midfielder will have a medical before sealing the transfer on a six-year contract.
Bellingham agreed the contract in April but Madrid waited until Dortmund had finished their season before moving on to the final parts of the deal. They intend to announce the move this week.
The 19-year-old had been a target for Premier League clubs including Manchester City. Liverpool withdrew from the race because the cost would have restricted the planned overhaul of Jürgen Klopp’s squad.
Bellingham joined Dortmund from Birmingham in 2020 and has developed into one of the world’s most sought-after players. He provides a short-term boost to Madrid and a long-term solution with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric aged 33 and 37 respectively. Madrid lost the striker Karim Benzema to the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad this week.
Bellingham is due to link up with England at St George’s Park on Monday to prepare for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia. His stay with Dortmund ended on a low when the team blew their chance to win the Bundesliga on the final day by drawing at home to Mainz. Bellingham did not play in that match or in the penultimate game because of a knee injury.
The move to Madrid, whose record 14 European Cup wins includes five in the past 10 years, continues the relentless rise of a player given his senior debut aged 16 years and 38 days by Birmingham in August 2019. That made him the youngest player to appear for their men’s team, who were in the second tier. His first top-division appearance came for Dortmund in September 2020.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has confirmed his next, and possibly final, club in his wildly successful football career with the news that he will join Inter Miami of MLS.
Messi is expected to confirm the news later on Wednesday.
Messi’s decision to cross the Atlantic is somewhat of a surprise. Many believed he would follow in the footsteps of his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo and sign a lucrative deal with a club in Saudi Arabia. Others thought he would rejoin Barcelona, the club where he emerged as one of the greatest players of all time.
But Messi has decided to head to Miami, a city where he already owns property. Inter Miami are part-owned by David Beckham, one of the few footballers who can rival Messi for global fame. The move also represents a publicity coup for MLS as it continues its push to become a major player in US sports. The last time the league attracted a player of Messi’s fame was when Beckham joined Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
The Athletic reported on Tuesday that MLS has offered the Argentinian a revenue-sharing deal with Adidas and Apple TV+, which broadcasts the league in the US. There have also been reports that Messi, like Beckham, will be offered the chance to own an MLS team when he retires.
Messi is joining a club in flux. Inter Miami are bottom of MLS’s Eastern Conference and fired manager Phil Neville last week. They still do not have a permanent home in the city, and play at a temporary 18,000-capacity stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The team was also disciplined by MLS in 2021 for violating the league’s roster rules. However, fortunes can turn around quickly in MLS, a competition that is designed to have more parity than the European leagues Messi is used to. Inter Miami are six points adrift of ninth place, where they would qualify for an elimination game to make the end of season playoffs.
Messi’s contract with Paris St-Germain expires on 30 June and the club have confirmed he will not sign a new deal to stay in France. While a return to Barcelona would have been a sentimental choice for the 35-year-old, the club’s precarious financial position all but ruled out a reunion. – Guardian