After another playing another starring role for Real Madrid in the Champions League Tuesday night against Napoli, the football world is once again basking in the talents of Jude Bellingham.
Bellingham is also just barely 20 years old.
But could that same talent have been somebody that wore the famed black and white stripes of Juventus rather than heading to the Yellow Wall in Dortmund?
The Italian press is telling us just that the day after Bellingham’s big performance in Naples.
According to Goal Italia’s Romeo Agresti and Michael Di Chiaro as well as La Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday, Juventus didn’t just have interest in signing the now-20-year-old Bellingham and star of the Real Madrid 2023-24 season to date. Things had progressed so much that Juventus hosted a then-16-year-old Bellingham and his family at Vinovo and Continassa in the spring of 2020 as he was looking to move from English Championship side Birmingham to a much bigger club in Europe.
Per the report from Goal Italia, Juventus presented “a rather attractive offer to both the club and the boy’s family,” but Bellingham instead chose to sign with Borussia Dortmund. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Bellingham vicino alla Juventus nel 2020: a 16 anni visitò Vinovo e la Continassa insieme alla famiglia ⚪️ ⚫️https://t.co/O4FeXFRE4R— GOAL Italia (@GoalItalia) October 4, 2023
Both the report from Goal Italia as well as La Gazzetta say that Juventus were at first going to have Bellingham play with the newly-created Under-23 (now Next Gen) squad. As you can tell, playing in the Bundesliga for one of the biggest clubs in Germany that has a very good reputation for developing young talents and not shying away from giving them playing time no matter the age was a much more appealing option rather than initially heading to Serie C.
According to the reports, the final step after a few weeks of reflection was: Birmingham getting a €30 million fee and Bellingham going directly into Dortmund’s senior squad, something that wasn’t going to be the same kind of route if he chose to sign with Juve.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard reports about Juventus and Dortmund essentially going head-to-head over an extremely talented young player who has since become one of the best players in the game. It wasn’t too long before the chase for Bellingham took place that Juve and Dortmund were in contention to sign a young striker by the name of Erling Haaland. (I don’t think I need to tell everybody who won that race, too.)
But as Juventus’ midfield continues to be a sticking point in how the club has played the last handful of years, seeing somebody like Bellingham even coming close to signing with the Bianconeri is just more salt in the wound. Who knows just how things might have gone if he went to the U-23 squad and how long it would have taken him to break through into the first team, but at the very least a talent like that would have been in Turin rather than becoming one of the most expensive midfielders ever before his 20th birthday.