Youri Tielemans

Youri Tielemans: Leicester City’s New Midfield Dynamo

Youri Tielemans, the son of Flemish and Congolese parents, was still at school when he made his UEFA Champions League debut for Anderlecht in 2013 at the age of 16 years and 148 days.
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The youngest Belgian to appear in European football’s platinum club competition, Tielemans had been on Anderlecht’s radar since he was five after being born in nearby municipality Sint-Pieters-Leeuw.

Following swift progress through the academy with the 34-time Belgian champions, the two-footed midfielder also starred in a Jupiler Pro League fixture against Lokeren three days after his 16th birthday.

It ended in a 3-2 defeat, but the post-match discussion was dominated by the breakthrough talent of a youngster many had already been told in hush tones to look out for several years beforehand.

Unusually confident for such a young player, Jean Kindermans, the head of Anderlecht's youth department, likened Tielemans to Axel Witsel, while the player himself idolised Zinédine Zidane.

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Youri Tielemans
Youri Tielemans

The midfielder quickly earned wonder kid status at his hometown.

Mohammed Ouahbi, another Anderlecht youth coach, said: “We have always known Tielemans was a super talent. Whenever anyone asked me who would go far, I would mention his name first.”

As his stock continued to rise, Tielemans’ attacking qualities were complimented with the ability to sit in as a holding midfielder and this raw tenacity made him a useful box-to-box player for Anderlecht.

In June 2014, he was named Belgium’s Young Player of the Year before also collecting the nation’s Most Promising Newcomer prize in January 2015. Naturally, other clubs were alerted.

After making his senior international debut in a 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands in late 2016, Monaco emerged as his most likely destination.

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Youri Tielemans
Youri Tielemans

Despite Monaco's struggles this season, Tielemans has been a star performer.

He scored five goals in 15 matches during the 2016/17 Europa League campaign as Anderlecht reached the quarter-finals, earning the dogmatic midfielder a place in UEFA’s Squad of the Season.

“He is a phenomenon,” said former Anderlecht and Sweden midfielder Pär Zetterberg. “There are not many players better than him.”

The following summer, after 35 goals in 185 appearances, two league titles and a duo of Belgian Super Cups over four years, Tielemans headed to France to join Ligue 1 champions, Monaco.

A reportedly lofty transfer fee made headlines and his assist for Djibril Sidibé in a 2-1 Trophée des Champions loss to Paris Saint-Germain immediately provided a preview of what was to come.

In September 2017, his first competitive goal for the Principality club came in a 1-1 Champions League draw with German side RB Leipzig.

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Youri Tielemans
Youri Tielemans

Tielemans played against England in both the group stage and the Third-Place Play-Off in the 2018 World Cup.

He went on to appear 35 times for the side in his first season, also playing alongside Leicester City’s Rachid Ghezzal, and Monaco eventually finished as runners-up under Leonardo Jardim.

Last summer, on the other hand, an appearance against Gareth Southgate’s England came Tielemans’ way in the FIFA World Cup as the Red Devils sealed third place in Russia – their best-ever finish.

If 2017/18 was a learning curve for Tielemans, this term the 14-capped Belgium international has excelled, scoring five goals for Monaco – more than any other central midfielder in Ligue 1.

Still just 21, Tielemans arrives at King Power Stadium to join an already youthful and vibrant side and will be eligible, subject to Premier League and international clearance, to represent the Foxes against Manchester United on Sunday (2:05pm GMT kick-off).

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