Player Mike Phelan urged Manchester United to sign now worth over £90million

Player Mike Phelan urged Manchester United to sign now worth over £90million

Manchester United received a recommendation from Mike Phelan to sign Jude Bellingham while the teenager was still playing for Birmingham City.

But the England international would snub a move to Man United in favour of Borussia Dortmund.

The Red Devils were strongly linked with a move to bring Bellingham to Old Trafford at the start of 2020, the same transfer window United were also hunting for Erling Haaland.

Both young footballers chose Dortmund ahead of Manchester United, with United struggling to meet to terms with Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola.

Bellingham received an invitation to the club’s Carrington training ground along with his parents, with Sir Alex Ferguson even meeting them, but they felt the midfielder’s development would be best served in the Bundesliga, with Jadon Sancho one of the testimonies.

The Athletic report that it was Mike Phelan, former assistant coach to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United, who instigated United’s pursuit of Bellingham after watching him up close when Birmingham locked horns against West Bromwich Albion.

Mike Phelan recommended Jude Bellingham to Manchester United while he was playing at Birmingham City
Mike Phelan recommended Jude Bellingham to Manchester United while he was playing at Birmingham City

Dortmund paid Birmingham a transfer fee of around £25million for Bellingham’s services less than two years but after putting up superb performances as a regular in the Champions League, Bundesliga and becoming a regular also in the England squad, the midfielder’s value is now believed to be worth in excess of £90m.

Becoming a regular starter and having loads of appearances under his belt in less than two years? That’s something Manchester United wouldn’t have given to the youngster, given the number of qualities in United’s midfield.

However, United are now looking to bolster their midfield at the end of the season and Jude Bellingham is said to be on their wish list.

Phelan highly rates the rangy teenager’s ability, having scouted him when he was just 16 years old, and he is likely to be tasked with unearthing similar gems from the lower leagues in his revised role at United.

Explaining his approach to recruitment, Phelan told The Athletic: “Technology brings a bit extra. I’ve got to that point in my career where my eyes don’t deceive me. As long as my eyesight is good, I can see what’s going on.

Jude Bellingham is a regular starter at Borussia Dortmund
Jude Bellingham is a regular starter at Borussia Dortmund

‘There are a lot of people now within the game, because the game can afford it, (for whom) analysis is big: iPads, computers, they all play their part. But a computer has never won a game of football.

“It is useful but it doesn’t give you a feel for what’s actually going on. It’s easier to present those numbers to a player — kids today understand that world, they want to see how far they’ve run and everybody buys into that.

“A midfield player now in the Premier League has got to run 14 kilometres, 15 kilometres, which is enormous. But I’ve still got it in the back of my head — why? Why have you got to do that if you can play in a team? Does it get you the outcome you want? Not always.

“Stats can give you evidence. I prefer to see it. I’m still pen and paper.

“I’m not on a laptop, press a button and it all comes up to you. I can get somebody to do it.”

Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, who also is a huge fan of Jude Bellingham and admirer of Erling Haaland.

His sacking may have thwarted United’s chances of signing Haaland from Dortmund but Bellingham’s move could still be on the table, given if the Red Devils sign a manager, who loves giving teenagers a chance to impress.

Ralf Rangnick is United’s interim manager and the German is known for his love towards young players.

Also, the likes of Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino, who are two of United’s targets as Solskjaer’s replacement, love working with young players.