Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood could've been Man United and England team-mates... but now the row sparked by the Real Madrid star's alleged slur means it's very unlikely they'll ever be friends

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It was an unlikely prospect anyway, but the chances of Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood being pals now stand at zero.

In an extraordinary moment, Bellingham appeared to mouth the word 'rapist' to Greenwood after putting in a crunching tackle on him during Thursday night's Getafe vs Real Madrid clash.

Clips of the incident immediately went viral on social media and forensic lip-reader Jeremy Freeman had told Mail Sport he's '97 per cent confident' Bellingham did mutter the offensive term.

Greenwood was a regular for Manchester United when he was charged with attempted rape, assault and coercive behaviour in January 2022.

His career was put on hold but in February 2023, the charges were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service following the withdrawal of key witnesses.

Jude Bellingham (left) and Mason Greenwood (right) went head-to-head when Getafe hosted Real Madrid in LaLiga on Thursday night

Jude Bellingham (left) and Mason Greenwood (right) went head-to-head when Getafe hosted Real Madrid in LaLiga on Thursday night

Jude Bellingham (left) and Mason Greenwood (right) went head-to-head when Getafe hosted Real Madrid in LaLiga on Thursday night

During the contest, Bellingham allegedly mouthed the word 'rapist' in Greenwood's direction

During the contest, Bellingham allegedly mouthed the word 'rapist' in Greenwood's direction

The alleged comment by Bellingham, after he won a tackle with Greenwood, was caught by the television cameras and quickly went viral on social media

The alleged comment by Bellingham, after he won a tackle with Greenwood, was caught by the television cameras and quickly went viral on social media 

That didn't enable forward Greenwood, 22, to pick up what had been a promising Old Trafford career but he was able to continue playing football by going out on loan at LaLiga club Getafe.

Greenwood secured his move to Spain on September 1 last year and has since scored six goals and contributed four assists for a club that currently sits 10th in LaLiga.

He arrived a few weeks after England midfielder Bellingham, 20, sealed a dream £88.5million move from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid.

Regarded as one of the best young players in world football, Bellingham has certainly lived up to his billing by scoring 18 goals and setting up a further eight in 27 matches so far.

Wearing the No 5 shirt once worn by the revered Zinedine Zidane has not proved a heavy burden for Bellingham, who will be pivotal to England's Euro 2024 hopes this summer.

If things had played out differently, Bellingham and Greenwood could have been team-mates for both club and country - and much closer than they now appear to be.

In early 2020, Man United put on a full charm offensive to try and persuade Bellingham - then only 16 but already playing Championship football with Birmingham City - to sign for them.

A tour of their Carrington training complex involved chats with then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a handshake with legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Bellingham, 20, is England's great hope and will be pivotal to their chances at Euro 2024

Bellingham, 20, is England's great hope and will be pivotal to their chances at Euro 2024

The brilliant midfielder is loved by England boss Gareth Southgate and is a first-choice pick

The brilliant midfielder is loved by England boss Gareth Southgate and is a first-choice pick

Bellingham has made an electric start to life at Real Madrid after signing back in the summer

Bellingham has made an electric start to life at Real Madrid after signing back in the summer

It has since emerged that Ferguson was left 'incandescent' after football director John Murtough, who was leading the tour, didn't allow him time to talk to Bellingham.

Whether Fergie's wisdom would have tipped the balance we'll never know but Bellingham moved to Borussia Dortmund for £25m instead and thrived in the Bundesliga.

Bellingham's tour came just as Greenwood, who joined United's academy aged just six, was emerging into Solskjaer's first-team and proving himself an accomplished goalscorer.

But they weren't destined to take the field together at Old Trafford and, as it transpired, for England either.

Later in 2020, Greenwood made what remains his one and only appearance for the Three Lions, away to Iceland in the UEFA Nations League.

Unfortunately afterwards he seriously damaged any prospect of becoming a regular in Gareth Southgate's team by inviting two women into the England team hotel, a contravention of strict Covid-19 quarantine rules.

Southgate didn't slam the door shut on Greenwood's international career but, amid intense competition in the attacking positions, he was never selected again.

Greenwood's promising career at Manchester United fell apart after he was charged with attempted rape, assault and coercive behaviour in January 2022

Greenwood's promising career at Manchester United fell apart after he was charged with attempted rape, assault and coercive behaviour in January 2022

The charges against the footballer were dropped by the CPS but Manchester United decided not to bring him back into their team

The charges against the footballer were dropped by the CPS but Manchester United decided not to bring him back into their team

Greenwood is rebuilding his career with Getafe following his Manchester United exit

Greenwood is rebuilding his career with Getafe following his Manchester United exit

Two months later, in November 2020, Bellingham was handed his senior England debut in a Wembley friendly against the Republic of Ireland.

He now has 27 caps and is seen as fundamental to England's chances of winning anything, but he has never appeared on the same Southgate teamsheet as Greenwood.

Their two-year age gap meant they never played together in England's youth teams though naturally their paths may have crossed during training camps at St George's Park.

Shortly after Greenwood arrived at Getafe, a city 13km south of the centre of Madrid, he was mentioned in the same breath as Bellingham.

'Greenwood has a friendship with Bellingham and [the Real man] advised him to come to the Spanish league,' claimed the Getafe coach Jose Bordalas.

It made sense. As a fellow Englishman abroad, Greenwood may well have asked for Bellingham's phone number to seek his advice about what to expect in LaLiga.

Greenwood's one and only England cap came against Iceland back in September 2020

Greenwood's one and only England cap came against Iceland back in September 2020

It should have marked the start of a bright England career but Gareth Southgate didn't pick Greenwood again after he broke Covid-19 quarantine rules in Iceland

It should have marked the start of a bright England career but Gareth Southgate didn't pick Greenwood again after he broke Covid-19 quarantine rules in Iceland

But in a subsequent press conference, Bordalas beat a hasty retreat.

'I wanted to clear up a misunderstanding. I said that Mason Greenwood came to Getafe because he had spoken to Bellingham. It has been made clear to me that this was not the case. I apologise,' he said.

It's certainly unusual that a manager would retract a comment in such a way and it's likely either Real Madrid or Bellingham's camp - or both - were unhappy at the original assertion and got in touch.

Clearly, Bellingham wanted to put some distance between himself and his compatriot with the tarnished reputation.

Thursday night was the first time they'd met on the pitch in Spain and there appears little chance of them bumping into each other off it.

Greenwood lives in Boadilla del Monte, to the west of Madrid, while Bellingham has put down roots in Aravaca. Though not far apart on the map, it is about a 17 minute drive between them.

Thursday night's incident makes it unlikely Bellingham and Greenwood will be on good terms

Thursday night's incident makes it unlikely Bellingham and Greenwood will be on good terms

Thursday night's alleged incident has caused a stir. Reports in Spain say Getafe asked referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea to mention it in his report, which could land Bellingham in hot water.

In a parallel universe, the pair might have played together for club and country. Now it's unlikely they're on the best of terms.

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