'Unique' Jude Bellingham hailed by England coaching staff
England assistant manager Steve Holland has hailed the "unique" abilities of standout midfielder Jude Bellingham.
The 19-year-old has rocketed into the World Cup limelight after producing some scintillating displays for the Three Lions, and was at his absolute best during the 3-0 win over Senegal in the round of 16.
Bellingham grabbed an assist for England's opening goal, after bursting forward to collect Harry Kane's pinpoint through ball, before his superb midfield play allowed Phil Foden to release Kane for England's second.
His club Borussia Dortmund are acutely aware of the growing interest from Europe's biggest clubs, 90min understands, though they remain confident that Bellingham can be persuaded to remain in the Bundesliga for another year.
Nevertheless, bids are expected to be lodged for Bellingham next summer, and England assistant manager Holland believes that the Birmingham City academy graduate has added 'match-winning' qualities to his game over the past year that sets him apart from other midfielders.
"He’s unique. When you’re categorising really top players – I was lucky enough in eight years at Chelsea to experience a few of those – there are the physical attributes, there are the technical attributes," Holland said.
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"We’ve talked about Messi and those special techniques that make you special. My experience would be that what makes the top, top ones is the mentality – the self-belief, the confidence, the drive, the ambition every day to push and be competitive.
"There were a few at Chelsea during my time that I felt were always there every time in training. [Ashley] Cole, [Frank] Lampard, [Didier] Drogba, [John] Terry. There were others: players who perhaps weren’t super gifted physically or even super gifted technically – although on a high level – but the mental aspect of it took them to a different level of performance.
"Jude has those attributes. There has been an evolution physically over the last 12 months. We watch every match he plays, either live or by going over the footage. We know him really well, and there has definitely been an evolution physically because he is still developing. It has taken him to another level.
"There are only three things you can do in football: stop goals, make goals, score goals. That’s how you contribute. Jude can do all of those things. And, recently, he has begun to score goals, which is the bit that makes the biggest players big. It’s a match-winning ability that he is adding to his game."
Bellingham is a shoo-in to start for England in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against France, with a place in the last four of the tournament at stake.