Former Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman holds Jude Bellingham in very high regard as he believes the 20-year-old has the potential to reach the same legendary status as some of the sport’s greatest icons, such as Zinedine Zidane, Alfredo Di Stefano, and Ferenc Puskas by the time his career comes to a close.
Speaking in an interview with TNT Sports (h/t EuroSport), McManaman envisioned Bellingham’s remarkable trajectory which could potentially elevate him to legendary status at Real Madrid.
At just 20 years of age, the midfielder has made quite an impact ever since joining Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund for a fee reported to be around €103 million without add-ons, scoring 13 goals in 14 matches.
Madrid’s past is a Real inspiration
McManaman, himself, had significant success during his four-year tenure in Madrid, clinching two La Liga championships and as many UEFA Champions League titles.
He believes that Bellingham can draw inspiration from those who have previously graced the hallowed grounds of Santiago Bernabeu.
“When you play for Real Madrid, you have to be successful. That comes with the glamour of playing for Real Madrid,” McManaman said.
“They are the most successful football club in European history, so he will have to carry on winning trophies and add to the history of Real Madrid to become one of the greats,” he added.
He explained that all Bellingham has to do is look at the walls of Santiago Bernabeu to draw real inspiration.
“There are many things to help him carry on improving because all he has to do is look at the walls of the Bernabeu and see [Alfredo] Di Stefano, [Ferenc] Puskas, Raul, [Zinedine] Zidane, while [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos have all won five Champions Leagues.
“These people around you will drive you forward, and hopefully make him a better player, because then we will feel the benefit when he’s got an England shirt on,” he explained.
Never assert pressure
While McManaman acknowledged Bellingham’s promising beginning at Madrid, he also emphasised the significance of refraining from burdening young talents with excessive pressure.
“We put so much pressure on them; I remember Theo Walcott got into the England team [at the age of 17], and you were thinking: ‘Was it too soon?’”
“I like to allow them to breathe, settle, develop and mature.
“I sit here now as an ex-player and can say Zidane was a world star, as was the Brazilian Ronaldo. When Cristiano [Ronaldo] retires, he will be a world star.
“I hope in 18 years if Bellingham retires as a 38-year-old, that I’ll be saying he’s one of the greatest we’ve seen because he’s done something really special.
“At this moment, there is no pressure on him. Let’s hope he develops as a player in a Real Madrid and England shirt and becomes a very successful young man,” he explained.
Real Madrid youngster in line for significant minutes against Granada – report
Nico Paz was long hyped as Real Madrid Castilla’s brightest upcoming star. The media constantly kept the spotlight on the young Argentine through pre-season as he made a strong impression under Carlo Ancelotti in preseason.
His breakthrough eventually arrived, courtesy of Real Madrid’s injury crisis. He has now made two appearances for the team in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League and even recorded his first goal for the club earlier this week against Napoli.
Taking his chances
As revealed by AS (h/t The Madrid Zone), Paz has impressed management with his cameo against Napoli and will be called up for Real Madrid’s clash against Granada tomorrow.
In fact, there is a good chance he sees significant game time on the night.
After all, Ancelotti is without the likes of Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga in the middle of the park.
With Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, and Jude Bellingham filling the starting spots, Paz serves as the manager’s first-choice backup off the bench.
Paz voices his elation
Paz’s introduction against Napoli changed the texture of the game, and it was only poetic that he got the goal that put Real Madrid ahead again on the night.
Speaking to the media after his special night, the Castilla star did not hold back on his emotions.
“This is a dream. For a moment I didn’t even believe it. Very happy to be able to help the team. I dared. I was in automatic mode, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I hit it and well.”
“This is also a message for the other youth players: it is possible to get there. Ancelotti congratulated me, and the whole staff. They are an incredible group and I want to thank them all,” he added, urging his Castilla teammates to keep pushing.