Manchester United may find out in the next three weeks whether they can sign Birmingham City wonderkid Jude Bellingham for free or not.
The midfield starlet made his debut for the Blues in September aged 16 years and 38 days, making him their youngest ever player. After half a dozen substitute appearances, he quickly forced his way into the starting lineup and has already played 32 games for the Midlands club, scoring four goals and providing three assists.
It has been a phenomenal start to the career of someone who is still too young to sign professional forms and who is being paid £145 per week until he turns 17 on the 29th of this month.
And until he signs those professional forms, Birmingham cannot sell the player and he would be free to sign for any other club on that date.
Whilst the press has been bandying about figures around the £30 million mark for the transfer, the fact of the matter is that what happens next is entirely up to the Bellingham family.
United have been battling with Borussia Dortmund for Bellingham’s signature and the Bellinghams are very loyal to Birmingham. It is unlikely that they would allow Jude to simply walk away from the Midlands club and sign for whichever club impresses them most.
If that were to happen, the Blues would only be entitled to claim training compensation payments.
But if Bellingham signs professional forms with Birmingham, his family would effectively hand over control to the club who would then be within their rights to price him out of the market or even refuse to let him leave.
It is therefore a complicated situation where some sort of gentleman’s agreement is likely to be reached before the birthday deadline three weeks on Monday. For example, United (or Dortmund), the Bellingham family and Birmingham could agree some sort of fair compromise figure on a transfer fee – a figure that ensures Birmingham are handsomely rewarded but where United do not have to pay over the odds.
The player would then sign for Birmingham before being transferred to his next club.
According to The Mail, Bellingham has agreed to stay on his £145 per week schoolboy wage until the end of this season, at which point the agreed upon transfer scenario will be played out.
If true, given the circumstances, it seems a very honorable move by the player, showing the kind of character that will no doubt strengthen even further Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resolve to sign him.
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