JiLiHOT Daily, September 4th, Player Column. Last summer, Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund sold their star striker Erling Haaland, who within just one season had set records with 36 goals in the Premier League and a terrifying 52 goals overall. He was also awarded the Best Player and Best XI at the PFA Awards last week. This summer, Dortmund has another coveted player on the transfer market – Jude Bellingham. At only 20 years old, he has been repeatedly selected for the Bundesliga’s Best Player and Best XI. But why did Real Madrid invest £115 million to bring him back? Let’s let the data speak for itself.
JiLiHOT Daily：Speaking with Data: How Suitable is Bellingham for Real Madrid?
The Athletic has previously analyzed Bellingham from a tactical perspective using data, and it’s clear he is an incredibly versatile player. Especially when compared to other midfielders across European football, Bellingham stands out. He is an attacking midfielder, completing 15.3 forward passes per 100 touches. He also averages 5.2 interceptions and tackles per game, placing him in the top 10% of his age group for defensive efficiency. Additionally, he averages 0.38 goals and assists per game. In summary, Bellingham is an all-rounded midfielder – a “utility player,” so to speak.
You might be wondering: “How suitable is Bellingham for Real Madrid?” As known, Real Madrid has been in search of new midfielders since last season, as their midfield trio is either transferring or nearing retirement. While additions like Camavinga and QoAmeiny have been made, none can take the reins alone. With Bellingham, they are hoping to groom the next generation of midfielders.
Unlike traditional data analysis that relies on past performance to estimate future potential, AI can provide more accurate foresight, simulating player performance after a transfer, and assessing their adaptability and probability of success. Two criteria are typically used to evaluate suitability: chemistry prediction and tactical alignment prediction. In simple terms, it assesses the compatibility of a new player’s attributes with teammates and their tactical fit with the team.
The results show that Bellingham almost effortlessly fits into Real Madrid’s tactical style. He has already proven his comfort in a 4-3-3 formation and demonstrates strong attacking abilities. Compared to other clubs, Real Madrid’s style is more conducive to Bellingham’s strengths. However, as an English player moving to Spain, he might face some language adaptation issues that could slightly impact his performance.
According to reports, assessing player injuries is crucial. Haaland has been nicknamed “Glassman” due to his susceptibility to injuries given his build. Bellingham, on the other hand, possesses a natural shield-like position on the field and does not rely heavily on explosiveness and speed, making his stamina enduring. Moreover, the intensity of duels in La Liga is not as high as in the Premier League, and Real Madrid’s midfield rotation is high. No Real Madrid midfielder has an appearance percentage exceeding 80%, whereas Bellingham’s appearance rate at Dortmund was 86%. Given Real Madrid’s protective mechanism, Bellingham is likely to go even further.