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Jude Bellingham is set for a role in Borussia Dortmund’s midfield so where will he fit in? 

As Jude Bellingham heads over to Borussia Dortmund after finishing the season with Birmingham City on Wednesday night, you would forgive the 17-year-old for wanting to take time get used to first-team football in one of Europe’s top leagues.

Yet the young Englishman looks like he will put straight in the deep end at the Bundesliga side, with the £25million forward set to compete for a role in Dortmund starting line-up.

Upon announcing Bellingham’s arrival at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said: ‘The primary motivation behind his decision [to sign for Dortmund] were the prospects on the pitch we were able to offer him.

‘He has enormous potential, which we will continue to develop together with him over the coming years. He already boasts astonishing quality with and without the ball, and has a strong mentality to boot. 

‘Jude will immediately strengthen our first-team squad, but we will certainly give him all the time he needs to adapt to the higher level of play.’

So with Bellingham set for a key role at his new club, where exactly will he fit in at the Dortmund starting line-up?  

Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Monday that Bellingham will compete for a place in the centre of Dortmund’s midfield, with the Bundesliga giants often rotating between a 3-4-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

It’s a position the former Birmingham man knows well – in the 41 Championship games he played for the Blues, 20 of them were in a central role in the middle of the park.

Such was his impact at the Championship side this season, it was announced on Thursday that they have decided to retire his No 22 shirt.

A club statement read: ‘The 22 shirt has become synonymous with Jude, his rise to the first team aged just 16 years and 38 days and these qualities.

‘And as such the club have decided it would be fitting to retire his number, to remember one of our own and to inspire others.’ 

However, the 17-year-old may struggle for minutes if Dortmund persist with the same midfield combinations that have served them well this season.

At the heart of the midfield is Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel who still has two years remaining on the Dortmund contract he signed in 2018 following his transfer from the Chinese Super League.

Despite being nearing the twilight of his career at the age of 31, Witsel boasted the best passing percentage out of any player in the Bundesliga with 94.1 per cent accuracy over the course of the 2019-20 campaign. 

With Witsel seen as a more defensive option in the Dortmund midfield, Bellingham will be looking to fight for a place alongside the Belgian international. 

Often used in that role is creative German midfielder Julian Brandt, who had an encouraging debut campaign since his arrival from Bayer Leverkusen last summer. 

The 24-year-old contributed 13 assists in all competitions this season while alternating between an attacking central midfield role and a wide position among the front three. 

Former Liverpool man Emre Can, signed from Juventus in January, also tends to occupy a role alongside Witsel and a four-year deal given to Can by the Bundesliga club shows that the German international is in Lucien Favre’s future plans.  

Bellingham’s chances of minutes may be boosted by the injury struggles of Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney, with the 28-year-old limited to just 11 league appearances due to long-term ankle and knee problems.

Delaney could be fit for the start of the new season, though Bellingham will be looking to capitalise if the Dortmund man is late back from his recovery. 

The potential departure of Mahmoud Dahoud, who may have worked his way out of Signal Iduna Park having made just 14 appearances all season, could also work in Bellingham’s favour.

Though with several established international players ahead of the former Birmingham youngster in the midfield queue, Bellingham may have to get used to the substitutes bench until his opportunity to shine arises.   

Bellingham could also operate on the flanks if there’s no space in the Dortmund midfield, given he was used frequently in the wide areas during his Birmingham days. However, the German club look well-stocked in that area too with Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Gio Reyna among the players used in the front three. 

Bellingham will be looking at Sancho, has been linked with a high-profile move away from the Bundesliga this summer, as an inspiration for breaking into this Dortmund side.

Sancho arrived at Dortmund as a teenage Manchester City outcast in 2017, but now the 20-year-old is one of the most sought-after forward options in Europe having scored 17 league goals and registered 16 assists this term. 

At 17, the England international was thrust into first-team action as soon as he arrived on German shores. 

While Bellingham may not be a regular starter for Dortmund at first, he should be ready for the eyes of Europe fixed upon him as soon as the new season kicks off. 

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