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Jude Bellingham given Zidane’s number 5 after completing move to Real Madrid

AP – Holding up the same number 5 shirt once donned by Zinedine Zidane, Jude Bellingham completed his move to Real Madrid yesterday after signing a six-year deal with Europe’s most successful club.

Bellingham posed with his new shirt before Madrid’s packed trophy case after he passed his medical exam and signed the contract alongside club president Florentino Pérez.

“I have said in many interviews how much I admire Zinedene Zidane,” Bellingham said about his new No. 5 after having worn 22 with his former clubs. “I am not trying to be the same as him, I am just trying to be Jude, but it is definitely a bit of a homage to how great he was.”

Despite reportedly being a transfer target for several top European clubs, including Manchester City and Manchester United, Bellingham opted to move to the Spanish club that has won the European Cup a record 14 times. Pérez called Bellingham one of the “best players in the world” and underscored that while he had other clubs after him, “he is here because this is where he wanted to be”.

Madrid did not confirm the transfer fee, but Dortmund said in a statement to the stock exchange last week that it could reach more than EUR130 million (USD139 million).

Only 19 years old, Bellingham joins a youth movement at Madrid that includes 22-year-old Brazil forwards Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, French internationals Eduardo Camavinga (20) and Aurélien Tchouaméni (23), and Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde (24).

While he won’t be asked to replace the scoring void left by the exit of Karim Benzema, Bellingham may still have some very big boots to fill.

Veteran midfielders Luka Modric, a former Ballon d’Or winner, and Toni Kroos, both have contracts that expire at the end of this month.

Bellingham said he would like to learn from Modric and Kroos.

“Their experience is huge and they will be great for me,” he said.

Jude Bellingham. PHOTO: AP