Why Jude Bellingham turned down Man Utd’s ‘Avengers’ in 2020

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that Manchester United were unable to give Jude Bellingham “what he wanted” when trying to sign the midfield prodigy from Birmingham City in 2020.

Bellingham was coming off the back of breakout season that had seen him go from sitting his GCSEs in the summer of 2019 to then playing 41 times in the Championship at the age of 16.

But while United had identified the youngster as a target for Solskjaer’s new-look squad where developing domestic talent was being prioritised, Bellingham wound up joining Borussia Dortmund three weeks after his 17th birthday. From there, he quickly went on to become one of the best midfielders in Europe and is now Real Madrid’s best player at the age of just 20.

Bellingham got as far as a personal tour of United’s Carrington training ground, with the club even roping in legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson to schmooze the player and his family. Ultimately, there wasn’t the same immediate playing time on offer in Manchester as in Dortmund.

“He was in the building,” Solskjaer recalled while a guest on Sky Bet’s Stick to Football.

“I was there, obviously as the manager, Sir Alex was there, Roy [Keane] should have been there but wasn’t,” he added, joking with his former teammate sat next to him at the table.

“But Bryan Robson and [Eric] Cantona were there that day when he came to the club. So we all spoke to him and sold it to him as well as we could. But he knew what he wanted…X amount of minutes in the first-team. [He was] the most mature 17-year-old I’ve ever met in my life. He had it planned out.”

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Ian Wright, who was also on the podcast, likened the group of legends to some sort of United ‘Avengers’, while Solskjaer later clarified that Robson and Cantona were only present by coincidence as they were already due to be at Carrington that day for a different reason.

Bellingham had previously refused a visit to Carrington so he wouldn’t miss Birmingham training, revealed by former Blues coach Pep Clotet last year.

Solskjaer also addressed United’s failure to sign Erling Haaland in 2018, when he recommended the young striker to the club, and again in 2020 when the player was on the move again.


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