Pep Clotet expects fresh interest in Birmingham’s Jude Bellingham

Pep Clotet expects attention on Birmingham’s teenage midfielder Jude Bellingham to increase if the Sky Bet Championship gets back under way in the coming weeks.

The 16-year-old has been heavily linked with moves to Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund in recent months after enjoying a superb breakthrough campaign.

It remains distinctly unclear what the next transfer window will look like following the delay to the football calendar enforced by the coronavirus pandemic – meaning clubs’ spending and recruitment plans are difficult to predict.

Championship clubs are still waiting to hear from the EFL on whether they can use players who are out of contract at the end of June and any summer business will also be delayed somewhat.

“Because of the current situation we have now, we possibly think we’ll be competing and playing games until July,” the Birmingham head coach said.

“We are very focused on the present and there’s so much uncertainty in this situation that it’s very difficult to start thinking about next season.

“What I’m very happy about now is that Jude is here with us and all the players are here with us as well. We focus on that really, but I understand there’s going to be more speculation when the games do come back.

“As a head coach, I don’t deal with transfers, it’s the club. But I can imagine the situation has all the clubs very worried about how to finish this season and what impact this season has into next season.

“That can change a lot of the future of the clubs. Possibly it’s going to be a busy summer, possibly it’s going to be less busy, we still don’t know what impact it will have.”

Birmingham are one of the few clubs that seem certain to be playing in the Championship next season – they sit sixteenth in the table, nine points from the play-offs but eight clear of the bottom three.

But if they do resume, their five remaining home games will be played behind closed doors, and it is likely that will continue into the next campaign as well.

That means a financial shortfall for a club that were deducted nine points last season for breaking profitability and sustainability rules.

Whilst Clotet is hopeful the game as a whole can maintain the structure of English football, Birmingham and many other clubs may be forced to sell star players to make up for a loss of revenue elsewhere.

“It’s a lot up to what work every club is doing and how they’re structured and organised,” Clotet said.

“But I’m pretty sure that will always happen in the Championship, League One and League Two.

“We are talking a lot about how to finish this season, but we’re forgetting that next season is only a month or two months after and the situation will have a huge impact.

“The season tickets will not be there because you can’t access the stadium, so this will have an impact on the clubs.

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