After months of speculation, we finally think we know where teenage sensation Jude Bellingham will be headed this summer.
It has been widely reported that the Birmingham City midfielder has chosen to join Borussia Dortmund for around £20m, spurning Manchester United's advances as a result. 90min had exclusively reported recently that even a tour of United's training facilities and offering the player's younger brother Jobe a place in their academy was not enough to land his signature.
Instead, he will be headed to Die Schwarzgelben, having admired their ability to develop younger talent such as countryman Jadon Sancho, as well as the Bundesliga team offering him greater opportunity for regular game time.
It's a huge win for Dortmund, who have snapped up another of Europe's brightest young talents to add to their growing collection, which currently includes Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna and Sancho. The club have cultivated a reputation of being a fantastic stable for youngsters to develop and grow in, although players often move on after a few years.
Yes, they will have to pay a sizeable fee for him – but they will see that as a bargain, given Bellingham's huge potential to become a world-class box-to-box midfielder. After all, if you buy three players for £20m and one of them becomes an £80m player who you sell a few years later, jackpot.
So while Man Utd fans head to Twitter to lament their inability to sign another young talented player, there's plenty to get excited about for Dortmund's supporters - both for the club's present and future.
Since making his debut in August 2019 - becoming Birmingham's youngest ever first-team player in the process at 16 years old - Bellingham has continued to improve rapidly, and shown that he has what it takes to excel at the highest level.
The Englishman is very much in the mould of a classic box-to-box midfielder, and is effective on both ends of the pitch – yet he's actually been deployed on the left wing of a 4-4-2 formation more so than in the middle, despite being a right-footed player.
He's not one to waste possession, and can be relied upon to distribute the ball, shown by his 77% passing success rate in the Championship this season. The 17-year-old is also unafraid to take on his opponents, lying just outside the top ten for successful dribbles made by central midfielders in the second tier.
On the defensive end, he's made the eighth-most tackles of all central midfielders in the Championship, highlighting his willingness to do the 'dirty work' in the middle of the park as well.
If there's anything he can improve, it's his physical strength and his decision-making - but those are things that tend to come with age. Fortunately, he has yet to deal with any injuries in his short career, and has had his minutes managed well by Pep Clotet throughout the season.
The Spanish manager has sought to bring a counter-attacking, fast-paced style of football to the Midlands, and Bellingham's energetic, all-action style has made him a great fit within his tactical system. Whether he's been asked to play a ball-winning role from deep, or to be pushed further upfield to help create for his teammates, the 17-year-old has excelled for the mid-table team.
He'll likely be a great fit for Dortmund, whose manager Lucien Favre has emphasised a swift-moving, all-out attacking brand of football, with his players expected to transition quickly from defence to attack as soon as they force a turnover. But it's also worth mentioning that Favre has at times attracted criticism for being too open at the back; conceding more often than the rest of the Bundesliga's top four this season.
Given Bellingham's comfort with the ball and his strong defensive abilities, he's likely to be an excellent fit for Dortmund's fast-moving style of play. The English FA's former talent identification manager for Under-15 to Under-17 players Daniel Dodds has given high praise to the youngster, telling The Athletic earlier this year that the youngster has 'everything' needed on a technical level to succeed at the top.
He’s got everything. The way he moves; his technical ability. He’s incredibly bright in terms of football intelligence, tactical ability, tactical knowledge, knowing what to do, where to be. As good as anything I’ve ever seen, comfortably.”- Daniel Dodds, then-FA talent ID manager
With Dortmund likely to continue playing in a 3-4-3 formation next season, Favre tends to rely a lot on his central midfield pair, who play in deeper positions, tasked with winning back possession, before then pushing forward to support the front three and the attack-minded wing-backs.
Given Dortmund's defensive fragility at times, they play a pivotal role in helping the Bundesliga club avoid being caught out on the break. The duo are seen as the vital link between defence and attack, helping to ensure they are not outnumbered on either end of the pitch, particularly at the back.
Bellingham will fit well in his box-to-box role, alongside the more physical presence of Emre Can or Axel Witsel, who can help him to carry out his defensive duties. The fast-paced nature of the Bundesliga suggests that his ball interception skills will be key to sparking an attack for his teammates.
Further forward, his ability to drive forward will be hugely important. With Julian Brandt being the highest-scoring midfielder at Dortmund with seven goals (Witsel is next on four), the 17-year-old can evolve his finishing game further to becoming a ten goal per season threat at the Westfalenstadion.
Of course, it's hard to envision the Englishman being an automatic starter for Die Schwarzgelben come the start of the 2020/21 season. Most likely he'll have to bide his time, just as Sancho and Reyna did at the start of their stay in Germany, and train well to earn appearances off the bench first.
And with the Bundesliga being an entirely different playing experience to the Championship, it will take considerable time for him to adapt to the pace and high-pressing style that its teams tend to play with.
But given his current impressive abilities, as well as his huge potential, there's no doubt that Bellingham will be a fantastic player for Dortmund in the years to come, whose fans have plenty to be excited about..