That’s according to Sky Sports reporter Florian Plettenberg, who suggested that Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag wants to add the 19-year-old – who could fetch in the region of €150m (£130m) – to his squad, albeit with United’s chances somewhat limited by the rival interest from both Liverpool and Manchester City.
The transfer insider shared that update on Twitter, stating: “He’s the transfer target No. 1 for #MUFC confirmed! They expect him to cost around €150m, they have scouted him a lot. Ten Hag wants him in 2023! But: Chances are low due to competition from #MCFC and #LFC and due to Financial Fairplay!”
The England international, who could be set to explode at the upcoming World Cup this month, has seemingly been a long-term target for those at Old Trafford, with previous reports suggesting that the club had come close to signing the promising youngster back in 2020 during his time at Birmingham City, only for the youngster to opt to move to Germany instead on a £25m deal.
Bolstering the midfield ranks seemingly remains a prominent issue for Ten Hag and co, with even the £70m arrival of Casemiro in the summer having not ended the need for new additions, particularly after missing out on Barcelona playmaker, Frenkie de Jong.
The Dutchman – who worked under the current United boss at Ajax – had been a target for the Premier League side throughout the recent window, with a fee having even reportedly been agreed between the two clubs, only for the player himself to show a reluctance to make the switch.
One factor in that refusal to make the move to England had seemingly been the midfielder’s desire to play in the Champions League, albeit with his current side now ironically set to come up against the Red Devils in the Europa League in February.
Even if the 25-year-old were to shine in that two-legged meeting in the New Year, the tiresome nature of the summer saga could ensure that those at the Theatre of Dreams are better served looking elsewhere for a new recruit, particularly with De Jong having shown no real urgency to make the move.
Bellingham, then, would offer an ideal alternative should a deal be agreed in the near future, with the Three Lions star having only gone from strength to strength during his time in Germany, notably scoring nine goals in just 20 appearances in all competitions so far this season.
The dynamic athlete has been a truly “staggering” figure for the Bundesliga side of late – in the words of talkSPORT pundit Ally McCoist – with 19 goals and 20 assists to his name for the club in 119 games across all fronts despite his tender years, while De Jong has just 15 goals and 18 assists in 159 games in Catalonia.
While the Stourbridge-born starlet may play in a potentially more advanced role than his counterpart, the exciting talent offers real versatility with his ability to play all across the midfield and even on the flanks if required.
Equally, at still only 19 Bellingham would prove a potentially greater investment with the prospect of building the side around him in Manchester over the next decade or so, as well as having the added benefit of already plying his trade in English football at St Andrew’s – albeit in the second tier.
While the 6 foot 1 colossus did reportedly reject United in the past, that was seemingly over fears of a potential lack of game time, with the 17-cap machine’s rise since then likely to see him almost assured of a place in Ten Hag’s side were he to join this time around.
Any frustration regarding the failed pursuit of De Jong would surely be swiftly forgotten if the Dortmund dynamo is snapped up in 2023.