Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 June 2020

First Jadon Sancho, now Jude Bellingham - Chelsea and Manchester United battle over Birmingham City teenager

The 16-year-old midfielder is also reportedly attracting interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is reportedly in the transfer market for a new striker, with Lyon's Mousa Dembele linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. AFP
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is reportedly in the transfer market for a new striker, with Lyon's Mousa Dembele linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. AFP

Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham appears to be one of the most in demand talents in European football, with the latest reports claiming Chelsea had made an approach prior to the coronavirus lockdown.

Bellingham, 16, has also been linked with Manchester United and German rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, with the midfielder earlier this month spotted leaving United's Carrington training ground.

Bellingham turns 17 in June, when he will be eligible to sign his first professional contract, but any transfer looks set to be affected by the coronavirus crisis. The professional English football season has gone into shutdown, with a return not expected until at least April 30 - although that date appears ambitious - leaving plenty of uncertainty surrounding player contracts, which typically expire on June 30.

Prior to the uncertainty, the Daily Mail have reported, Chelsea were in talks with Bellingham and his representatives over a move to Stamford Bridge this summer, battling United for the teenager's signature.

Chelsea and United are also reportedly rivals for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, with the former Manchester City youngster expected to move back to the Premier League at the end of the season.

Sancho, who left City in 2017, has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in Europe during his two-and-a-half seasons at Dortmund. Before the current campaign was halted, the 20-year-old winger had scored 14 goals and created 15 assists in 23 Bundesliga games.

United are reported to be the frontrunners for Sancho as the Old Trafford club would be able to offer more lucrative terms, while Chelsea will hope Sancho's boyhood affection for the club will work in their favour.

With their two-window transfer ban reduced to one on appeal, Chelsea have been free to sign players since January, although there were no new arrivals in the mid-season window, leading manager Frank Lampard to claim his team are now "underdogs" to finish in the top-four.

Chelsea did secure a deal for Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, and the Morocco international will move to the club ahead of the new season, whenever that might be.

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The Blues have also been linked with Burnley's England international goalkeeper Nick Pope and Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.

Lampard is understood to be interested in Pope to apply pressure to current No 1, and the world's most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been dropped this season after a string of poor displays.

France international Dembele, meanwhile, has been linked with Chelsea since January as Lampard looks to add some more firepower to his squad. With veteran Frenchman OIivier Giroud likely to leave at the end of his contract, and Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi failing to impress, Lampard is looking to recruit a new striker to ease the load on England forward Tammy Abraham.

Updated: March 29, 2020 10:27 AM

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