Describing him as one of the “biggest talents in world football” Real Madrid on Wednesday confirmed the signing of England midfielder Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund.
At 19, Bellingham had already established himself among the most sought-after players in soccer, with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain among his admirers.
But he has chosen to join 14-time European champion Madrid on a six-year contract.
″Thank you everyone associated with BVB and the fans for everything over the last three years,” Bellingham said in a statement on Dortmund’s website. “It was an honor to wear your jersey so many times whether it was in the high or low moments.
“While I’m happy about my next destination I will never forget the journey I went on to get there.″
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 $139 million.
The German club said the fixed fee was $110 million, plus variables that could reach more than $32 million over the next six seasons.
Bellingham becomes the second biggest sale by a German club, following Ousmane Dembélé move from Dortmund to Barcelona in 2017 for up to $173 million.
Bellingham is a statement signing for Madrid after relinquishing its Champions League and Spanish league titles last season.
Following the signings of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni in recent seasons, Bellingham represents Madrid’s latest step to refresh its all-conquering midfield of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro.
Casemiro was sold to Manchester United last summer, while Modric is 37 and Kroos is 33.
Madrid is entering a period of transition and needs to sign a new striker after Karim Benzema left for Saudi Arabian team Al-Ittihad.
Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio and Mariano Díaz are also leaving.
Long-term target Kylian Mbappe has told PSG he will not extend his current contract beyond next season, meaning he could be put up for sale this summer.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane has also been linked with a move to Madrid.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti said attack was an area Madrid needed to address.
“That’s where we have to act and we’re going to do it without any rush,” he said. “We have time to do it without any rush. We’re looking for a striker who can score goals and link up well with the others.”