PREMIER LEAGUE clubs smashed the world transfer spending record this summer.
The 20 top flight teams have spent an eye-watering £2.34BILLION in just 80 days of crazy expenditure.
But the signing of the summer will not be playingin the Premier League.
Arguably the best deal of the window was done when Real Madrid beat Liverpool to snap up England international Jude Bellingham.
There was no drama around the signing of Bellingham, for £115million from Borussia Dortmund, as the deal was finalised right at the start of July.
And Bellingham has wasted no time settling into Spanish football perfectly.
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The young English midfielder has five goals in his first four La Liga games, to match Cristiano Ronaldo's record when he first joined the club in 2009.
Bellingham, however, is not known as a goalscoring midfielder so his role has changed under Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Now the 20-year-old has joined up with England.
So how can England coach Gareth Southgate can learn from this to unlock the potential of Bellingham for the national team?
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Bellingham has become a ‘10’
When Bellingham was first emerging in first-team football as a 16-year-old at Birmingham and after he moved to Germany with Dortmund it was as a box-to-box midfielder type.
He was praised initially for his reading of the game, unusual in such a young player, but also for his tenacity and willingness to sacrifice himself to help his team both in the attacking and defensive phases of the game.
When he moved to Dortmund Bellingham began to take more responsibility in terms of acting as a playmaker and dictating the play for his team.
In short, when the young midfielder moved to Germany he developed and emerged as a leader.
So, which version of Bellingham have Real Madrid signed?
Is he the intense box-to-box presence in midfield or more of a passer who looks to dictate things?
Well, the answer is both but also something else.
Coach Ancelotti has immediately given Bellingham an important role in the team in terms of leading the midfield.
But he has also used the English international as more of a ‘10’ as he encourages Bellingham to make high runs and to occupy space in and around the opposition penalty area.
He wears the No5 shirt made famous by Zinedine Zidane, and is now starting to play like the iconic French superstar.
Given Bellingham’s goal output so far this season this should probably not come as a surprise.
Ancelotti has encouraged Bellingham to leave the midfield spaces and make forward runs to support the striker.
This has been increasingly important given that Karim Benzema left the club in the summer to move to Saudi Arabia.
With England, we have typically seen Bellingham as more of a box-to-box type so far under Southgate as he is responsible for contributing significantly both in the attacking and defensive phases of the game.
England have so many attacking options and we are likely to see a front three of Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka.
But Bellingham could act as the link between those players with more licence to make forward runs and position himself in the opposition half.
Bellingham to move the ball forward
We have already covered the fact that at Real Madrid in La Liga, we are seeing Bellingham released to make forward runs to attack space.
But his importance to Madrid, and potentially to England is not simply with making these runs but with the positions that he can occupy when in the final third.
Bellingham is known to be obsessed with the game and this shows with his understanding of how to position himself off the ball in advanced positions.
We will typically see the young midfielder positioned between the lines of the opposition's defensive shape and in pockets of space.
From these positions Bellingham shows for the ball in order to give the player in possession a pass to progress the ball and move the attack into the final third.
With England in this international break, we already know that Bellingham will be joined by Declan Rice in the English midfield.
It is important though that Southgate finds the balance in the midfield unit with the third player as Bellingham should now be released into more advanced spaces in order to help England break into the final third.
Too often we have seen the English midfield look pragmatic and almost defensive under Southgate.
But with the new role that Bellingham is thriving in under Ancelotti in Spain, we see the perfect player to link the midfield and attack units.
It is important going forward that a player with the incredible talent of Bellingham is given more freedom to roam forward and position himself in areas, close to the opposition penalty area, where he can receive the ball and really create danger for England.
Bellingham the box crasher
While Bellingham is still very much categorised for Real Madrid as a central midfielderhe has been used as a box crasher.
The England star is encouraged to make runs past the striker in order to occupy the opposition penalty area and to make late bursts towards the ball.
This is a new thing. At Dortmund Bellingham would join the attack and enter the opposition area almost exclusively in the established attacking phase when they already had several players in the area against a deep opponent.
One of the most striking features of the way that the English midfielder has been used in Spain has been the fact that he is encouraged to make runs that make him the most advanced player.
Bellingham is, of course, not the only big England player to have moved clubs this season with Harry Kane having moved from Spurs to join Bayern Munich.
There is little doubt that Kane will continue to lead the line for England but he is a forward who has developed into a player who wants to drop deeper to link the play in midfield wherever possible.
Kane will routinely drop deep and leave the forward line without a central player to act as a focus point.
This tendency from Kane, however, could work perfectly with Bellingham if he is allowed to push forward and to make forward runs past the striker.
As Kane comes deep Bellingham could go beyond then creating threat beyond the opposition's defensive line.
Bellingham is an extremely intelligent footballer and if given more freedom in terms of where he positions himself he could provide a clear extra dimension to the English attack.
What does this mean?
Jude Bellingham has long been lauded as one of the most talented young players in the world.
But his move to Spain and his performances for Real Madrid have elevated his status to one of the true top players in football.
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Now, the responsibility sits with the English coaching team to ensure that they create a role within the team to get the most out of the unique set of skills that Bellingham provides.
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