As one of the top performers at Borussia Dortmund, Jude Bellingham is consistently targeted by opponents. The 19-year-old midfielder is the most pressed player in the German top flight this season – but he is also well able to handle the pressure.
After Matchday 7 Dortmund lie second in the table behind surprise leaders Union Berlin, with their most recent victory coming against Schalke in the Revierderby. Bellingham made his 100th competitive appearance for the club in that game, and he is once again one of their standout players this season.
The England international pulls the strings for BVB in central midfield, something that hasn’t got unnoticed by opposing teams. According to AWS Match Facts, Bellingham is the most targeted player in the Bundesliga this season so far, put under a pressure while on the ball a total of 145 times.
The heat wasn’t quite as intense at the start of the campaign, but currently Bellingham is getting little respite. He is having to get involved in more and more challenges – including 28 against Schalke.
The former Birmingham City youngster has won 119 of 198 individual duels he has had to take on this season, however, winning the ball in those tackles a league-high 60 percent of the time.
It seems clear, then, that Bellingham is relishing the extra responsibility he has been handed. Speaking on Der Schwarzgelbe Talk earlier this week, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic explained why he felt the youngster was ready to be officially named as the club’s third captain – behind Marco Reus and Mats Hummels – ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
“He’s only 19,” Terzic said. “He’s not from the area but I find he embodies everything that this region stands for and how we want to play football.
“We want to see our youngsters playing. And it makes no difference to me if he’s been with us for two or three years, whether he’s 19 or how much he cost. I look instead at what he can bring to the squad.
Watch: How Dortmund beat Schalke, analysed by AWS
“Jude has absolutely earned it. I know from my time in England how important being the skipper or club captain is for English players. I know it fills Jude with pride… but we don’t only want Jude to play good football, we want him to drive and lead this team.
“This responsibility was not a gift. First of all, he earned it, but secondly he knows that I want more from him too. We speak every day about how he can improve his game not just for himself but also for us. I think he’s headed in the right direction, and we’re really happy with how he’s performed.”
With Reus picking up an ankle injury in the win over Schalke, Bellingham will feel even more pressure to perform – and from his opponents as well. A leader on and off the pitch already, it’s likely he will be up to the challenge.
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