New Real Madrid signing Jude Bellingham said during his opening presentation at the club on Thursday that he would like to see Kylian Mbappe join him.
The midfielder, 19, has signed a six-year contract at the Bernabeu and will wear the No. 5 shirt — previously worn by his idol, Zinedine Zidane — for Madrid next season.
In an event at the club’s Real Madrid City training complex, club president Florentino Perez called Bellingham “one of the best players in the world” as the former Birmingham City and Borussia Dortmund player posed for photos, before taking questions from the media.
“I can’t really comment, I don’t know his situation,” Bellingham said when asked about Madrid’s links with Mbappe. “If anything, my whole saga has taught me that not everything you see is true.
“He’s a great player, whatever he chooses to do, all the best to him. Would I like to play with a player like Kylian Mbappe? Who wouldn’t?”
Madrid confirmed the deal to sign the England midfielder — a deal Dortmund have stated is worth an initial €103 million ($111m), with another possible €30m ($32m) due in variables — on Wednesday.
“The reason I’ve said it’s the proudest day of my life is because it’s the greatest football club in the history of the game,” Bellingham said. “Not many players get the opportunity to play at such a brilliant, historic club. I feel really grateful.”
Madrid beat interest from Premier League giants Manchester City and Liverpool to land Bellingham.
“Money’s not a thing for me,” he said. “I don’t think about money at all when I make these kind of decisions. I spoke with people when I was given permission by Borussia Dortmund; I spoke to [Madrid chief scout] Juni [Calafat] and [managing director] Jose Angel [Sanchez], and I loved the feeling I got… It wasn’t the case that the other teams were bad; it’s just that, for me, Madrid are the greatest.”
Bellingham added: “I’d always been aware of the interest from England, so that was pretty normal. But it was a bit of a surprise when my dad sat me down and said, ‘You’ve had interest from Real Madrid,’ 12 or 15 months ago.
“It was goosebumps, my heart was close to stopping. It’s something you don’t expect growing up, playing for a team like this.”
Madrid have added Bellingham, left-back Fran Garcia and playmaker Brahim Diaz to their squad for 2023-24 as they look to win back the LaLiga title from Barcelona and challenge again for the Champions League.
Madrid are also targeting a centre forward after Karim Benzema left to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad, and, as well as Mbappe, they have been linked with Bellingham’s England teammate Harry Kane.
“As far as the Harry Kane rumors go, I can’t comment on that,” Bellingham said. “He’s a world-class player, he’s my captain; I love him as a player and a person. Whatever happens there happens.”
Bellingham is the sixth English player to sign for Madrid, following in the footsteps of Laurie Cunningham, Steve McManaman, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate.
He stated he had chosen the No. 5 — rather than his usual 22 — because of its association with Zidane.
“I’ve said in many interviews how much I admire Zinedine Zidane,” Bellingham said. “I’m not trying to be the same as him, I’m just trying to be Jude, but it’s definitely a homage to how great he was.”
Bellingham called manager Carlo Ancelotti “an incredible coach” and said he was looking forward to learning from midfield veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
“The things I’ll gain, especially from the two older lads Modric and Kroos, will be unbelievable,” he said. “Their knowledge of the game, the way they play, their experience will be so great for me. I’ll be like a sponge around them, trying to steal anything they’ve got. They’ll probably be annoyed with me after the first week or so.”