Football Features

Youri Tielemans’ next permanant club? It looks he has options beyond Leicester City

By Harry Edwards

Published: 12:10, 1 May 2019

Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans has been in great form since joining Leicester City on loan from Monaco.

The 21-year-old is a consistent starter in Brendan Rodgers’ side, having scored three goals and recorded four assists in 11 games, and his general presence has turned Leicester’s season around.

This is a far cry from the midfielder who looked likely to waste his potential, stuttering at Monaco under Leonardo Jardim until Thierry Henry’s brief spell in charge resulted in increased game time for Tielemans – with the pair having worked together previously with the Belgian national team.

Despite his good performances for Leicester, Tielemans looks unlikely to return to Monaco at the end of his loan spell, especially with Jardim now back in charge.

However, the Belgian is not without interest from elsewhere. Premier League sides, in particular, will be interested having seen what he can do in his short time with Leicester in the division.

So, where should he go?

Dream: Manchester United

Two years ago, Youri Tielemans was tipped as the next big thing to come out of Belgium. A midfielder full of promise who had pretty much everything needed, and Europe’s biggest teams – including Manchester United – were reportedly interested.

Monaco won the initial battle, but right now United find themselves in great need of reinforcements in the middle of the pitch. And, based on recent rumours as to who could be leaving United this summer, that need looks set to become even greater.

Even given the mini-revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United’s midfield has been poor this season. Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba have not been nearly consistent enough and the latter is said to be desperate to leave Old Trafford for the second time this summer, according to the Independent.

Tielemans is certainly not Pogba, but the Belgian can go some way to ensuring United do not miss the Frenchman. Since Tielemans’ debut, which came in a good spell for Pogba, the Belgian has outperformed the man he could replace.

Tielemans has averaged 0.29 goals per 90 minutes and 0.39 assists, compared to Pogba’s 0.2 and 0.1 respectively. The Belgian also averages more passes completed per 90 than Pogba at 47.92 to 41.8.

And even if Pogba stays, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera are almost certain to leave. United have the squad space and the need to introduce someone capable of providing something different in attack from a deeper position.

Slotting in alongside Matic, or another defensive midfielder, Tielemans could be that someone.

Dream: Arsenal

Like United, there is another English team to have consistently been linked with Tielemans since his emergence at Anderlecht a few years ago. The player himself even confirmed he had ruled out joining Arsenal for fear of seeing his playing time limited by the “top-class” midfielders already present at the north London club.

But the situation has changed.

When Arsene Wenger was still in charge, the Gunners were looking to keep their reputation for building up impressive young players into some of the Premier League’s top players at their peak.

One of these men is Aaron Ramsey, who joined Arsenal as an 18-year-old from Cardiff and was moulded into one of the Premier League’s best attacking midfield players when fit and in the team.

But the Welshman is on his way out, signing a pre-contract agreement with Juventus and above everything else, Arsenal’s poor recent form in his absence has shown they cannot cope without Ramsey. So, why not go for Tielemans?

Rated at £40m, Tielemans wouldn’t be cheap, but nor is he the most expensive midfielder out there. And for what he has shown he can provide within a Premier League team, it would be a good bit of business for Arsenal’s board to fork out a bit of extra cash.

At 21 years old, Tielemans is a long-term investment who can add to the impressive young midfielders Arsenal already have in Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira. And unlike Guendouzi being eased into the team, Tielemans should be a guaranteed starter based on the performances of his would-be competitors this season.

Squawka Suggests: Arsenal

United pay better and will always be the more appealing – and potentially more realistic – of these two ‘dream’ options, but Tielemans will probably thrive more at Arsenal.

While Solskjaer’s future has already been questioned after a poor run of form since taking permanent charge, Arsenal look ready to stick with Unai Emery for the long run – or a few seasons at the very least.

Playing in the same system, alongside the same players – Guendouzi and Torreira – would give Tielemans the chance to build himself an even bigger reputation.

Realistic: Leicester City

It was an unexpected move given the Premier League teams he had previously been linked with, but Tielemans joining Leicester on loan has been a wonderful decision.

The Belgian has made himself at home at the King Power, with Rodgers wasting little time in unleashing the 21-year-old, linking him up with James Maddison.

And this young project is something Tielemans has been taking note of too.

At Leicester, I can be part of something great. They will have a new training ground, the stadium will be much better than it is now with more fans coming over. So it can be something great for the future.

– Tielemans on potentially staying at Leicester

Since his February debut, only Jamie Vardy (12) has been directly involved in more goals than Tielemans (seven) for Leicester and that is understandable with the Englishman scoring 11 goals.

Leicester are probably kicking themselves that they couldn’t get an option to buy included in his loan move – though Monaco were likely the problem there. In any case, the Foxes will fancy their chances of keeping the Belgian. And Tielemans joining the Foxes permanently in the summer shouldn’t be dismissed as an option.

Realistic: Tottenham Hotspur

But yet another Premier League team ready to ruin Leicester’s hopes is Tottenham Hotspur, who have also been linked with Tielemans for some time.

According to recent reports in Belgium, Tottenham have been keeping a close watch on Tielemans and are ready and willing to spend £40m on the 21-year-old – potentially breaking their year-long transfer drought.

Like with United, Tielemans could find himself replacing a big star at Tottenham with Christian Eriksen’s future not entirely secure. If Spurs can guarantee Tielemans’ signing, they may be less reluctant to let Eriksen go, knowing they have the capability to cover his departure.

And, like Pogba, Tielemans has been more than keeping up with Eriksen since making his Premier League debut.

Of the key attacking midfield areas, only in chance creation does Eriksen produce more than Tielemans, averaging 2.64 per 90 to 1.56. But this is largely because Eriksen runs the show for Spurs, while Tielemans allows Maddison to do the creative work at Leicester.

Tielemans has scored goals and recorded assists at a better rate than Eriksen and averages more passes completed than the Spurs man.

And alongside Harry Winks and Dele Alli, Tielemans could form a dynamite young midfield to thrive under Mauricio Pochettino.

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Squawka Suggests: Leicester

Though Tottenham are on the up, as their Champions League semi-final appearance shows, things are working well for Tielemans at Leicester and if the Foxes can bring up the funds, he should stay.

The project at Leicester is certainly an exciting one with some of England’s best young players involved. Much like Arsenal, Tielemans can become part of a formidable young side for years to come if things go as planned at Leicester, and his partnership with Maddison can be amazing.

Wildcard: Atletico Madrid

It’s not just the Premier League clubs who will be keeping an eye on Tielemans’ time with Leicester.

Atletico have long been fans of the midfielder, looking to sign him as an 18-year-old Anderlecht player, two years before his move to Monaco. And when he did make the move to Monaco, Atletico were name-dropped by Tielemans’ agent as another option.

And now, two years on, the Wanda Metropolitano could emerge as a left-field option for the Belgian.

Such is Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone’s quality at moulding impressive young players, a large section of the club’s midfielders are being linked with a move away from the club.

The biggest name is Saul Niguez, who is being tipped for an £80m sale, more than freeing up the funds for Tielemans with a lot of change. According to reports, the Spaniard has fallen out with Simeone and will be looking for a way out this summer – with Manchester United and Manchester City possibly turning their attention to him.

Wildcard: Borussia Dortmund

Along with Atletico, Tottenham and Monaco, Borussia Dortmund were the fourth team mentioned by Tielemans’ agent in 2017 as the best options for the midfielder.

And now could be a good time for Dortmund to show they are the best of the best. This season, Lucien Favre’s men have pushed Bayern Munich close for the Bundesliga title and even looked favourites to win the trophy at one point.

But ultimately they do look like missing out after problems were exposed as the season went on.

And though midfield doesn’t appear to be one of their problems, it does not mean Dortmund shouldn’t look to improve on it. At Dortmund, Tielemans would be able to add creativity from deep, further improving the attacking prowess alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus.

As he has done with Maddison, a partnership alongside Mario Gotze could see Dortmund become even more dangerous through the centre of the pitch – a fine option for when the wide players have a quiet game.

Squawka Suggests: Atletico

Both teams would be a good option for Tielemans, but given the fact Atletico are more likely to have the money required and room in their midfield, a move to the Wanda Metropolitano would appear wiser.

Under Simeone, Tielemans can refine his attacking abilities but also add an even stronger defensive side, potentially turning the Belgian into one of the best all-round midfielders.

Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Tielemans in La Liga?