A player that will become a household name in the future, Jude Bellingham, plays for the EFL Championship team Birmingham City. The 16-year-old has shown tremendous talent at such a tender age and has drawn the attraction of teams such as Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. So, this tactical analysis will be a scout report aimed to analyse his abilities and playstyle, and providing an in-depth analysis and tactics employed in his team.
Bellingham plays as a box-to-box midfielder that plays throughout the pitch and contributes to attack and defence equally. His main strengths are in his defensive contributions, being very competent at tackling and interceptions of the ball. Attacking wise, he possesses technical prowess, having a strong first touch, and being talented at dribbling.
Bellingham is talented at both offensive and defensive duels, ranking 37th and 36th in the league respectively. This makes him very talented, especially for a 16-year-old, and makes him a gem for the future.
On the ball
Bellingham primarily plays in the left side of the pitch, as shown in the heat map below. He contributes to both attacking and defensive play, making him a very versatile player. He holds all the abilities to play as a holding or attacking midfielder but plays as a Left Midfielder. However, he has played as a CM and is versatile on all three parts of the midfield.
As shown on the heatmap, he drops deep by acting as a passing option for his team-mates. This allows him to get involved in the build-up or exploit defensive spaces in the opponents and break through their defence and score. However, he doesn’t make a lot of splitting runs through the defence, making 1.44 progressive runs in a game. This means that his role is more oriented to create space in the opponent’s half.
When he is on the ball, he uses one of his main, and arguably greatest strengths, dribbling, and runs towards the box rapidly. This involves him beating the full-back or winger that approaches him, and creates space for him between the wing and box, allowing him to either pass the ball into a dangerous position or cut inside and shoot. With around 4.77 dribbles (1v1 take ons per 90) and a 60.3% success rate, Bellingham is more than likely to succeed in beating a player.
As shown in the map above, Bellingham attempts multiple shots on goal from various distances as well after a dribble.
As shown above, Bellingham creates space for himself after beating the number 7 and frees up some space for him to either continue his run on the wing or cut inside. This system works when he plays as an LM or RM, as he can perform the same, trademark action on both sides of the pitch.
Jude Bellingham is good at picking a pass at the right time, whether it be a through ball or a normal pass. However, it is still a developing feature of his, and not as good as his other skills like dribbling. Bellingham plays as a deeper midfielder, meaning that he is important in the progression of the ball. As he approaches the box, he penetrates the defence using his dribbling skills and passes to his teammates, as shown in the diagram below:
The diagram above shows the passes played in the final third by Bellingham. As mentioned above, he often carries the ball, meaning that he holds the ball before making the pass at the right time. Bellingham makes 29.84 passes every game, with a pass accuracy of around 75.76%. This means that Bellingham does not make a lot of passes for a midfielder in a game. Bellingham ranks 113th, while compared to Aaron Mooy from Huddersfield who makes 64.02 passes in a game. This means that Mooy has triple the number of passes compared to Bellingham.
His crossing is also not a strong forte for Bellingham. He has attempted 31 crosses, with only 7 connecting, meaning he has 22.6% successful crosses, This is indicated in the map below:
The map above highlights the weakness, as he clearly has an overwhelmingly large number of unsuccessful crosses. However, he seems to be improving in this form of playmaking over time and makes more successful crosses on average.
Nonetheless, he can use his developing passing skills and combine it with his other skills like his acceleration and dribbling to be an effective playmaker. As shown above, Bellingham receives the ball and goes wide as indicated previously in this scout report. He then proceeds to use his dribbling skills to beat his marker and plays a cross into the box to the player. This repetitive movement allows the players to score or create dangerous chances in the box.
However, the cross does not connect. This indicates one of his largest problems: Creativity and Flair in passing. Bellingham makes around 3.82 progressive passes in a game, putting him at 140th in the league. He also makes 2.05 passes to the penalty area in a game. All of these statistics reinforce the point made about his lack of creativity in the final third.
Another point to be noted is that Bellingham does not attempt a lot of passes. This includes normal passes, progressive passes, through balls or passes into the final third. This means that he has the tendency to keep possession with him and carry the ball to the final third before making a pass.
Saving his best for last, Bellingham is very strong defensively, and makes a lot of defensive contributions to his team, and is especially strong at it for a 16-year-old. This ability makes him an all-round player and can be used in both halves of the field.
Bellingham makes 8.75 duels per 90, with a success rate of 62.44%. This makes him a key player defensively as he is more than likely to win the ball back in a 1v1 duel. Bellingham is an aggressive defender, and often runs the length of the pitch to press and tackle the ball. His stamina and agility help to restart a counter-attack as well after dispossessing the defender. This is shown below:
As shown, Bellingham goes in aggressively for the tackle and wins the ball. The possession for Birmingham is regained, and the ball then falls to Jutkiewicz, who counter-attacks with Bellingham and his team-mate to attack the opponent’s box. The map below shows the composition of defensive duels won by Bellingham in his own third.
The map above shows how far back he falls to press and recover the ball, performing mostly defensive duels. The number of sliding tackles shows his style: A risk-taker that aggressively presses and goes in for sliding tackles.
Another crucial and strong element of his is his ability to recover the ball defensively. Bellingham has 6.33 recoveries in a game, having a good distribution of recoveries in all parts of the pitch, in his own half or the opposition half, as indicated below:
The map reinforces that he plays as a box-to-box midfielder with ease, and is competent at tackling to act as a defensive backup for his team.
After the Helder Costa (Leeds player) dispossesses Bellingham, he hunts Costa down to get the ball and dives in for the sliding tackle. The tackle allows Birmingham to regain possession and attack. This high-risk high-reward playstyle that Bellingham possesses allows Birmingham to recover and potentially score by creating a turnaround in the play.
Bellingham possesses a relentless attitude to regain the ball for his team, which makes him a brilliant fit in the team. This is because he provides defensively and offensively for the team, and works his lungs off. His attitude and ability is precious for a 16-year old and is something sought after.
I will now be comparing Bellingham with other players in his league: The EFL Championship.
The graphs above show how Bellingham compares with the rest of the league. The comparison helps us recap on the analysis and give the full idea of the type of player Bellingham is.
Bellingham comes in the middle of the bunch in terms of passes per 90. He ranks 113th in terms of passes made in the league. However, he has more accurate passes than most people in the league, having an average of 75.76% pass accuracy.
Bellingham lacks creativity but is something that improves innately over time and with the correct training. He makes around 3.82 progressive passes in a game, and only 4.15 passes into the final third. This means that he lacks the spark required to be a creative playmaker.
Bellingham is heavily involved in the buildup, having made around 1.44 progressive runs per 90. This is heavily complemented by his xGBuildup90 of 0.13.
Bellingham, like every other wonderkid, has the potential to be something special. He holds two advantages over his peers at his age level: His work-rate and attitude. He gets regular game time, playing 32 games in the Championship for Birmingham. Bellingham currently plays and has adapted to a 4-4-2, but has the potential to play for a bigger team as a number 8 in a 4-3-3 or as a number 10 in a 4-2-3-1.
His main pros are his technical ability on the ball and his defensive skills. This means that he is a great dribbler and is very comfortable on the ball. He is also very talented at defending and can regain possession with relative ease. However, he needs to polish his passing abilities and become more decisive in possession. If he improves upon these skills, he easily can become one of the greatest British youth talents for the future.