Jude Bellingham has problem worse than David Beckham as England risk 'losing' star

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is concerned that Jude Bellingham‘s career might be cut short due to the effects of burnout. Bellingham is already one of the best players in world football and is a key member of the England squad at this summer’s Euros.

Bellingham burst onto the scene during his time at Birmingham City, making his debut at the tender age of 16 years and 38 days. Since then, he has featured heavily for the Blues, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in addition to winning 31 caps for England.

Football’s lawmakers, meanwhile, are concerned that players are being overworked to a greater degree than ever before. A new study has revealed that Bellingham has played almost five times as many minutes as David Beckham had at the same age, illustrating just how much football he already has under his belt.

The study, conducted by Fifpro, prompted PFA chief Maheta Molango to suggest that England could lose Bellingham ahead of schedule unless something is done to reduce the workload of young players.

“We need to protect the stars of the show,” he told The Times. “When you have the chance to have those unbelievable players, particularly Jude, he is football. You get a Jude Bellingham once every generation. You need to protect him. You need to give him a chance.

“I want to see him for another 10 to 15 years. It does football a lot of good to have this type of guy. Humble off the pitch, an example of good behaviour, smart, focused. If we don’t protect him we are going to lose him and we need him.”

Molango has already staged talks with key figures at FIFA and UEFA and believes there will be ‘seismic changes’ to the way football is governed. Jean-Louis Dupont, a Belgian lawyer who was part of the legal team that led the Bosman ruling in 1995, has been appointed by players’ unions.

“If we win, going forward is going to be about the employers and the employees,” said Molango. “UEFA and FIFA would be out of the equation, only organising the competition. They would sit down for the collective bargaining agreement, but that’s it.

“It speaks about the right to have a holiday, like any other employee, the right not to be obliged to forced labour, the right to collective bargain. A footballer is an employee like any other employee, and a person who should be able to expect to get some time off.”

Molango went on to suggest that football could learn some lessons from American sports, which tend to give players longer breaks. The NFL, for example, only runs for 18 weeks during the regular season while the NBA runs from October to April, not including the playoffs.

“I couldn’t work three years in a row consecutively,” said Molango. “I need a break and money doesn’t solve that. We need a break mentally as well as physically. We look at the American sports where they do that well. They have proper season breaks. They have intense seasons but then there are proper breaks.”


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