The future of Jude Bellingham has been heavily discussed in recent weeks as the Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League and La Liga. He’s set to be the most talked about player this summer, as elite clubs look to win the race to sign an England star with the world at his feet.
So, we’ve has fired up the Football Manager 2023 editor and placed the England star with the squad of four possible suitors, as well as allowing him to extend his stay with the Bundesliga club by one more season.
Here is how the dazzling wonderkid fared on each occasion, with our simulation kicking off at the start of the 2023/24 campaign.
Jurgen Klopp kickstarts his midfield revolution by agreeing a £120m deal with his former club Borussia Dortmund to take Bellingham to Anfield. Months of speculation comes to an end as the England star is paraded alongside his new manager in a move Reds supporters will hope will lead to domestic and European success.
The early signs are promising as Bellingham marks his Premier League debut with a goal and an assist in a 4-0 home win against Fulham that sets the tone for a title challenge with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Progress is made in the Champions League as a group containing Olympiakos, Inter Milan and Ajax is safely negotiated.
Thoughts of a historic quadruple are quickly vanquished by a penalty shoot-out defeat against Manchester United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, a loss that marks the start of a poor run of form for Bellingham and his side. Their Premier League title challenge falters later in the season as City seize the initiative and claim the title by three points.
There is still the matter of both the FA Cup and Champions League final, but City punish Liverpool in both to complete the treble. Julian Alvarez gets the only goal of the FA Cup final to give Pep’s men their second trophy of the season and a third follows with a penalty shoot-out win in the Champions League final after the two sides fail to break the deadlock over 120 minutes.
From a personal point of view, Bellingham is named European Golden Boy and Premier League Young Player of the Year after impressing alongside Thiago in midfielder - but there are no major trophies to mark his first season on Merseyside.
Manchester City win the race to sign a player regarded as the future of England’s midfield as they secure a £120m deal for Bellingham to reunite him with former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland.
A competitive debut comes with a 2-1 win over Arsenal in the Community Shield before Bellingham marks his Premier League bow with two assists for Haaland in a 3-0 home win against the Gunners. Utilised as a box-to-box midfielder alongside Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne, Bellingham plays an integral role in helping City fly out of the blocks and they don’t lose a game in the Premier League until November, when they lose the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils also ended City’s hopes of landing the Carabao Cup by inflicting a penalty shoot-out defeat in a two-legged semi-final and the FA Cup is also out of the equation after City are beaten 3-1 at Brighton in a fourth round tie.
The league title slides away, Liverpool become Premier League champions once again as they hold a four-point lead on second-placed City when the final whistle blows on the season. The two sides go head-to-head in the Champions League final just weeks later, but again the Reds deny their rivals any silverware with a penalty shoot-out win after the two sides battle to a 1-1 draw.
Bellingham’s first season at the Etihad Stadium delivers no individual honours and no major silverware.
Erik ten Hag completes a summer overhaul of his midfield as Scott McTominay joins West Ham United on loan and Fred moves to Inter Milan on a permanent basis. Jude Bellingham is their big money replacement as he completes a £120m move to Old Trafford to form an intriguing midfield partnership with the vastly-experienced Casemiro.
A 2-1 home win against Crystal Palace sees Bellingham put in a man of the match display on his debut but it is a rare high as the Red Devils quickly fall off the pace in the Premier League. They drop down the league table as their club record signing fails to inspire a title challenge and European football is at risk too as United fall out of the top seven.
Tottenham Hotspur kill off thoughts of an FA Cup win with a 3-1 win against Ten Hag’s side in North London and their rivals Arsenal inflict a 7-0 aggregate hammering on United in the semi-final of the Europa League. But there is silverware as the Red Devils reach the final of the Carabao Cup and Bellingham scores in a penalty shoot-out win against Spurs after the two sides fought out a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.
It ensures United will play in the Europa Conference League but it is not enough to save Ten Hag as he is sacked after his side end the Premier League season in ninth place, 17 points shy of the top four. Bellingham is named Premier League Young Player of the Year but his second season at Old Trafford will be played in Europe’s third club competition and under the management of Luis Enrique.
A move to the Premier League fails to materialise as the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City fail to agree a deal for Bellingham. La Liga giants Real Madrid step in and a £120m fee is quickly agreed to take Bellingham to the Bernabeu.
Making his Real bow in an exciting midfield trio with Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, Bellingham bags an assist and a goal in a 3-1 win at Villarreal as Carlo Ancelotti’s side hit the ground running with a run of form that will go a long way to securing a La Liga title. Silverware follows as Bellingham plays an integral role in a 5-0 win over Al-Hilal in the World Club Cup final, but the Spanish Super Cup slips away with a 3-1 loss against deadly rivals Barcelona.
A shock Champions League round-of-16 defeat to Napoli sees Real fall victim to Victor Osimhen as the Nigeria striker scored three times over two legs in a 4-1 aggregate win for the Serie A side. But Real regain momentum and go on to land the league title with a nine point advantage over second placed Barca. A domestic double is on the cards as Bellingham scores in a semi-final win over Xavi’s men - but it is Real Betis that lift the trophy with a dramatic 3-0 win in the final.
Named European Golden Boy at the end of the season, Bellingham’s first season at the Bernabeu is a success - but that Champions League defeat will sting.
Despite months of constant speculation and rumours of failed bids, Bellingham opts to remain at Borussia Dortmund as he snubs several offers from England and Spain.
A promising start to the season sees Dortmund take maximum points from their first five Bundesliga games before Champions League defeats against Real Madrid and Napoli sandwich a first league loss at the hands of RB Leipzig. Patchy form follows as Dortmund narrowly progress through the Champions League group stage with a final matchday win over Dinamo Zagreb but league defeats against Eintracht Frankfurt and Union Berlin hamper their title push.
A post-Christmas slump hits confidence, Bayern Munich knock Dortmund out of the DFB-Pokal at the quarter-final stage and participation in the Champions League comes to an end with a 4-0 aggregate loss against Manchester City in the first knockout round.
Dortmund end the season with defeats at Borussia Monchengladbach and Augsberg before labouring to a final day home draw with Mainz as they end the campaign in third place in the Bundesliga table, 28 points shy of champions Bayern and six short of second-placed RB Leipzig. Edin Terzic retains his job as manager but Bellingham will reflect on what could have been if he had moved away from the Bundesliga club.