Jude Bellingham has signed for Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham City for a fee in excess of £26m. Thus he becomes the most expensive 17-year-old in history. Dortmund have released a video confirming the news via their official Twitter account, with players and staff from across the club seen singing along to ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles to welcome their new arrival. The 17-year-old English midfielder completed a medical in Germany on Thursday after Dortmund persuaded him to move to the Bundesliga club over Manchester United, who had also made him an offer. It is understood Birmingham will receive a guaranteed £25m up front with an extra £1m of almost-guaranteed money, and ‘several millions more’ depending on appearances, achievements and milestones.
Bellingham is still only on a schoolboy contract with the Championship club, which would normally mean he could have signed a professional contract with any other team and the fee decided by tribunal. But Birmingham were able to demand a high fee because they had a professional contract ready for Bellingham to sign, and an agreement with the player and his family that they would sign, if any other club suggested he move for free and go down the tribunal route. He follows in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, who moved to Dortmund in 2017 and has since gone on to become one the stars of the Bundesliga and an England international.
Dortmund courted the midfielder, who turned 17 in June, for more than two years, amid stiff competition from most of Europe’s top teams, including Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and most notably, by Manchester United. United pulled out all the stops in their attempts to sign the box-to-box midfielder, offering him a tour of their training ground with Sir Alex Ferguson. But the England U17 skipper has chosen Dortmund due to the club’s long history of developing young talent and their policy of giving them the chance to play in the Bundesliga. His first duties as a Dortmund player could come just eight days after his final game in the Championship, when the squad begins their pre-season training. Ten days later the players head for their annual week-long training camp in the Swiss spa town of Bad Ragaz, with the new Bundesliga season set to kick off on September 18.
Bellingham has been sought after in England and in Germany even before he became Birmingham’s youngest ever first-team player at the age of 16 years and 38 days last August.