Jude Bellingham snubbed for Messi in Spain as defender brings starboy back down to earth


Real Madrid starboy Jude Bellingham has been snubbed in favour of Barcelona legend Lionel Messi after Real Betis defender Aitor Ruibal was asked if the England international was the best player in the world. Bellingham and Ruibal both scored on Saturday as Betis held Madrid to a 1-1 La Liga draw at Benito Villamarin.

Bellingham notched his 16th goal of the season shortly after the break in Real’s latest encounter as he chested down Brahim Diaz’s clever pass before slotting the ball through the legs of home keeper Rui Silva. But Ruibal earned the hosts a share of the spoils midway through the second half courtesy of a thumping effort from 25 yards.

After the showdown, Ruibal was quizzed about Bellingham being the best on the planet. And the 27-year-old replied: “As long as Messi is active, I can't say that anyone is better than him.”

Ruibal then added: “It is true that he (Bellingham) is one of the best right now and at his age, because he will surely be among the best in the near future, if he is not already.”

Bellingham made a name for himself during the 2019/20 campaign after becoming a regular for Birmingham in the Championship at the age of 16. The midfielder moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2020 and racked up 24 goals and 25 assists during 132 appearances for the German side.

The 20-year-old then secured an £88million move to Real Madrid ahead of this campaign and has gone from strength to strength at the Bernabeu after being handed a more attacking role. The blockbuster star has already netted 12 times in La Liga and four times in the Champions League, with his side storming to the top of the table in both competitions.

Bellingham’s form for Real means he will be a key player for Gareth Southgate’s England side at next year’s Euro 2024. The midfield genius has already been capped by his country on 27 occasions and represented them at Euro 2020 and at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

And after England defeated Italy 1-0 in October to book their place at next year’s tournament, the Three Lions boss lauded the player as he explained: “It is the mentality that is the thing [with Bellingham]. It’s the belief. Sometimes you see talent and you can see skill, but to have such belief and impact on the game and be so comfortable engaging with the crowd and all of those things, we’re very lucky.”

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