There are few players in world football right now as downright impressive as Jude Bellingham.
The midfielder has quickly become an absolutely key player for Borussia Dortmund and England and there is an actual queue of top clubs desperate to prise him away from Signal Iduna Park this summer.
Transfer talk will have to wait, though, with Bellingham currently focused on trying to win a Bundesliga title for the first time and end a decade of Bayern Munich dominance.
That quest will see him line-up for Dortmund in a potentially crucial game against Hertha Berlin this week, and the Englishman will again be expected to influence the game.
There can be no doubt that Jude Bellingham impressed for England at the World Cup at the end of 2022 and he has taken that form back with him to the Bundesliga.
He has played all but one game for Dortmund since the resumption of the German season, including captaining the side to a win at Bayer Laverkusen.
He came back from Qatar with a bang. Dortmund hosted Augsburg in their first competitive game since the World Cup and it was a thriller with Bellingham at the very heart of it.
They won it 4-3, with the England international scoring one, getting an assist on another and also picking up a yellow card in a player-of-the-match display.
That yellow card did prove costly as it was his fifth of the season. That meant he had to sit out the win at Mainz, but he has played all but 19 minutes of Dortmund’s schedule since, helping himself to two more assists in that time.
Bellingham also captained Dortmund to a successful return to the Champions League last week as they beat Chelsea 1-0 at home in the first leg of their round of 16 clash. He later described taking the armband at Dortmund as ‘the biggest honour of his career so far.’
Bellingham will again be at the heart of the Borussia Dortmund midfield for the visit of Hertha Berlin, and they will be in confident mood.
A win would rake them level on points with Bayern Munich, although it will be surprise package Union Berlin who will be top should they beat bottom of the table Schalke.
Hertha are not doing much better than Schalke in truth. They are have five more points, although that only translates to one position higher in the Bundesliga table.
Should coach Edin Terzic opt to bench veterans Marco Reus and Mats Hummels again, Bellingham will keep wearing the armband and fans will be expecting another all-action midfield performance.
Dortmund have gone to a 4-1-4-1 system of late, with Bellingham tasked with providing the attacking talents of Karim Adeyemi, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Julian Brandt and Youssoufa Moukoko with enough of the ball high up the pitch to hurt Hertha.
That role has changed slightly. Dortmund have set up in a 4-2-3-1 for much of the season with Bellingham part of the double pivot in midfield.
The new system affords Bellingham much more freedom, though, with former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can deployed in a holding role behind him.
Bellingham is one of the most sought-after players in world football right now, and he is sure to be at the centre of a summer transfer scramble.
Liverpool and Real Madrid have been most strongly linked with the midfielder, although free-spending Chelsea are reportedly keen to enter the chase too.
Of course, Dortmund haven’t given up hope of keeping him too. Sporting director Sebastian Kehl recently addressed the Bellingham transfer speculation by reiterating the Bundesliga’s desire to keep hold of him, although he did admit it may be unrealistic.
“Of course we’re trying to keep Jude Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund as long as possible,” Kehl told Ruhr Nachrichten. “He’s an incredibly important player who has shown once again this season how he identifies with this club and makes the team better.
“I would also like to still have Erling Haaland or Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund. Because you can only imagine if we had managed to keep all three players in one team, what opportunities would then arise. Things develop due to market mechanisms. So of course, I have my thoughts and also have my wishful thinking. I can’t say whether [Bellingham staying] will happen in the end.
“From Borussia Dortmund’s point of view, the wishful thinking would be to keep a player of this quality at this club for as long as possible.
“We will always try everything to keep players of this quality at BVB – because we are ambitious, because we want to win titles. For this, we need not only good but outstanding players.”