Birmingham City: The club who found Jude Bellingham consider their academy's future

Jude Bellingham was also a summer target for Manchester United but opted instead for the Bundesliga
Jude Bellingham was a summer target for Manchester United but opted instead for the Bundesliga

Birmingham are considering the future of their academy that developed teenage England midfielder Jude Bellingham.

The 17-year-old made his international debut during last month's 3-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland.

Bellingham came through the Blues ranks and made his debut aged 16 before joining German giants Borussia Dortmund in the summer in a deal that could eventually exceed £30m.

But the Championship club now want to explore "different working models".

Birmingham have said that they are exploring a B and C team model similar to that of Championship rivals Brentford.

Although the club are still very much at the sounding-out stage following an "internal review", that might mean no set-up below under-18 level.

Aside from Bellingham, who made such rapid progress last season after becoming both the club's youngest player and youngest scorer, Blues have also made good money from other academy products over the past decade.

The sales of three current Premier League players, Crystal Palace and England keeper Jack Butland, Southampton winger Nathan Redmond and Leicester City winger Demarai Gray, were all for fees in excess of £3m.

And only last week highly-rated academy manager Kristjaan Speakman left to take on the newly-created role of sporting director with League One side Sunderland.

Jude Bellingham left for Borussia Dortmund in the summer in a move that is expected to ultimately bank Blues £30m
Jude Bellingham left for Borussia Dortmund in the summer in a move that could ultimately earn Blues more than £30m

Blues said in a club statement:external-link "The country's decision to leave the European Union and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced the club to revaluate our approach to player recruitment and youth development.

"We share an immediate geographical catchment area with a number of other professional clubs which makes attracting the best young talents from the local region increasingly difficult.

"Whilst we continue to field a competitive under-23s team in the Professional Development League, there lies difficulty in exposing players to the standard of football which renders them equipped and ready for our first team.

"Additionally, the necessary resource and funding of the academy has to make sense from a business perspective.

"The review has highlighted that in the current climate, with the associated costs of operating an academy system of different age groups, developing value is becoming increasingly difficult.

"As a direct response to the findings, the club will be looking at remodelling the academy system and exploring a 'B and C Team' model."

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