The former Blues winger knows all about making high-profile transfers as a teenager and feels a Birmingham starlet should bide his time at St Andrew’s
Manchester United have been heavily linked with Birmingham youngster Jude Bellingham, but Jermaine Pennant has warned the 16-year-old that he would hit a “brick wall” at Old Trafford.
On the back of just 26 competitive appearances, the youngest player to ever represent the Blues is attracting plenty of admiring glances from afar.
Arsenal are said to be sitting alongside Premier League rivals United in the race to prise a hot prospect from St Andrew’s.
Pennant, though, feels that an exciting talent should be looking to bide his time and shun any interest from the top tier.
The former Blues winger knows all about high-profile transfers as a teenager, having made one himself when linking up with Arsenal at the age of 15, and feels Bellingham would be making a mistake treading a similar path.
“It’s difficult, it will be so hard for Jude to turn down a move to Manchester United,” Pennant told talkSPORT.
“But is it going to halt his career, at 16? Ole is not going to be throwing him into the starting line-up, he will be in the squad but he won’t be starting. How many games is he going to play?
“Now he is a regular at Birmingham. Birmingham is in the Championship, not League One, not League Two, the Championship, it’s good football.
“The Championship is a very difficult league, more demanding than the Premier League – and he’s 16 and he’s holding his weight, he is putting in tackles, he’s strong.
“When I saw him, I was thinking ‘No way is he 16, what has he been taking, can I have some of that?’.
“He is skilful, he is box to box, he puts in challenges. You have either got one or the other, skilful players don’t want to tackle, I didn’t tackle.
“He is 16, he is diving in, he is putting his foot in and he’s not scared – and he’s got skill as well.
“He has got ability as well, he is both footed, scoring goals, creating goals, he is a fantastic talent and he’s only going to get bigger.
“He is tall now but he has still got to grow to 21 so he is going to get bigger, wiser, quicker, stronger, he is a fantastic talent.
“I am surprised that no other teams are looking at him as well.
“My advice would be to stay at Birmingham for a season, at least for the rest of this season, continue playing, learning more, the trade of demanding first-team football in the Championship and it will do wonders for his career moving forward.
“Rather than going to Man Utd and hitting a brick wall, going from ‘I have been playing every week being a young starlet, to now just floating about training – when am I going to play?’”