Man Utd watched Bellingham play 46 times before star’s move to Borussia Dortmund

The race for Jude Bellingham is well underway, with Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City all battling it out to sign the Borussia Dortmund star.

According to The Athletic, Dortmund have slapped a £131million price-tag on the England international following heightened interest, although it hasn't deterred potential suitors. Bellingham initially caught the eye while playing for boyhood club Birmingham before starring in Germany, but it turns out that United did all that they could to sign him before he left England.

United reportedly watched Bellingham play on 46 different occasions from the age of 12, and made a formal approach to sign him when he was 15 years old. But a package couldn't be agreed, and now a mammoth fee will be needed to tempt Dortmund into a sale.

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Once again, Dortmund have struck gold with their continued development of young talent. After cashing in on Ousmane Dembele, and making a huge profit on Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, Bellingham is the next in line to make a big move.

Liverpool and City are tipped as the front runners, but United are still in the conversation as the midfielder is undoubtedly a generational talent. But United bosses will be wishing that they had pushed harder during their discussions with Birmingham many years ago when they attempted to sign Bellingham.

According to The Athletic, Bellingham was scouted for many seasons before he even broke into the Birmingham side, and those in attendance urged United to sign him immediately. United were such regular spectators that they even struck up a close relationship with the club.

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But when they thought their time had come to sign Bellingham when he turned 15, they were dealt a huge blow as the midfielder chose to stay loyal to his boyhood club. This was despite Birmingham looking to sell the midfielder as they suffered financially during his breakthrough into the first team.

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Former United assistant Mike Phelan even travelled down and sat with Birmingham bosses to try and negotiate a deal when watching a local derby against West Brom. But an agreement could not be reached, and now any successful bidder will have to part with £131m to secure his services.

Bellingham is now an England regular, and his stunning goal for Dortmund against City in the Champions League this season has only added to the hype surrounding the youngster. Bellingham is destined to return to England, but it will take a Premier League record deal to make it happen.

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