Jude Bellingham said he was already “10-times better” than he was last season at Borussia Dortmund after he continued his fine start to life at Real Madrid with two goals and an assist in their 3-1 LaLiga win at Almeria on Saturday.
Bellingham has adapted quickly to life at Madrid since his €103 million ($112.2m) move from the Bundesliga club, scoring in their 2-0 win at Athletic Club last weekend before Saturday’s brace at the Power Horse Stadium.
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“I think I’m 10-times better as a player than last season,” Bellingham told Real Madrid TV. “I’m learning from these players. The level here is so high, I’m like a sponge taking it all in.”
Sergio Arribas put Almeria ahead early on before Bellingham levelled from close range in the 19th minute and then put Madrid in front with a header after an hour, before setting up Vinícius Júnior for a late third.
“I saw [Real Madrid comebacks] a lot of times on TV when I was a kid,” Bellingham added. “I remember thinking ‘they won’t be able to do it’ and in the end they did. Now I’m here and I’m seeing it. I never thought we were going to lose, I looked at the players’ faces and there was no panic.”
After scoring his first goal of the season, Vinícius said he hopes his partnership with Bellingham can match the one he shared with former teammate Karim Benzema
Ballon d’Or winner Benzema formed a deadly strike duo with Vinicius — scoring a combined 73 league goals between them over the last two seasons — before leaving for Al Ittihad this summer.
“We have to keep going like that,” Vinicius told Real Madrid TV. “Jude is always scoring goals. With me and all of the team helping, we’ll have a lot of success this season… I hope it can be like my connection with Karim, which [gave us] a lot of goals and a lot of assists, and good football.”
Coach Carlo Ancelotti also praised the England star’s impact.
“It’s about the player’s maturity, and the personality he has,” Ancelotti said. “He was in Germany for three years. Those are the reasons why he’s adapting so well to LaLiga and to our style of play. He’s doing well.”
Bellingham’s goalscoring has helped ease doubts over whether Madrid’s squad contains enough attacking firepower after the departure of Benzema.
The club have brought in Joselu from Espanyol, but the Spain international is the only senior centre forward in the first team squad.
Ancelotti has responded by changing his formation, switching Madrid’s usual 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond and Bellingham playing behind Vinicius and Rodrygo Goes.
“Right now, [I have] no [doubts about the formation],” Ancelotti said. “We played with two lines of four and we felt comfortable. In defence it doesn’t allow you to control the wings, but it gives us variety in attack.”