Game-changing Bellingham the World Cup's best young player, says Shearer

By Sports Desk December 05, 2022 125

Jude Bellingham has been the best young player at the World Cup so far and could make the difference in England's bid to capture the trophy, according to Alan Shearer.

The Borussia Dortmund star scored England's first goal of the tournament in a 6-2 thrashing of Iran in the group stage, and produced another masterful midfield display in Sunday's last-16 win over Senegal.

Bellingham leads his team-mates for dribbles completed (six) and possessions won (23) in Qatar, while only Luke Shaw (72) has bettered his tally of 48 passes ending in the final third.  

The 19-year-old's all-round ability has seen him touted as a contender to be named the young player of the tournament, and Shearer believes his presence has improved England considerably. 

"England did very well at their past couple of tournaments, but I think there is a difference this time," the former striker wrote in a column for BBC Sport.

"Four years ago, we were not the most talented side at the World Cup, but we were well-organised, had fantastic team spirit and great character, and that took us to the semi-finals.

"This time we are definitely a better team, ability-wise, than we were at Russia 2018 or last year's European Championship where we lost in the final.

"We still have a plan, and that same togetherness, but we have more experience, more depth – and we have got a very exciting young talent in Jude Bellingham too.

"Bellingham has probably been the young player of this World Cup so far. His performance against Senegal was unbelievably good, and he brings something different to this England team that we didn't have four years ago.

"With him driving forward from midfield, we look more dangerous – we are far more fluid now when we build attacks, wherever they start."

England will face holders France for a place in the last four on Saturday, when Gareth Southgate's side must find a way to contain Kylian Mbappe – the tournament's top scorer with five goals. 

However, Shearer believes keeping the Paris Saint-Germain star quiet is no guarantee of success against Les Bleus.

"You need to do more than keep [Harry] Kane quiet to keep England out, and it is the same with France and Mbappe," he added.

"Antoine Griezmann and Adrien Rabiot are having brilliant tournaments, Aurelien Tchouameni has really impressed me and, while Ousmane Dembele can blow hot and cold, if he is on form that night then he is a handful.

"Then you have Olivier Giroud, of course, who is now France's record men's goalscorer. It could be a shoot-out between our front five and theirs – and it is going to be great to watch."

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Last modified on Monday, 05 December 2022 16:43
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