It’s no secret that Manchester United’s priority signing this summer is Frenkie de Jong. While United have agreed a deal with Barcelona to secure the services of the Dutchman, there are still many issues that need to be resolved before a transfer can be finalised – mainly the money owed to him by Barcelona.
As it’s not totally clear yet if De Jong will reunite with Erik ten Hag in Manchester, one of the names reportedly on United’s list as a backup option is Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans.
Date of Birth: 07/05/1997 (25)
Position: Central Midfield
Strong Foot: Both
Height: 1,76 m (5ft 9in)
Who is Youri Tielemans?Embed from Getty Images
Most people will know Tielemans as he’s been around for a while now. The Belgian began his career at Anderlecht where he made a name for himself as an exciting young talent. In the summer of 2017, he left Anderlecht and moved to France where he joined AS Monaco for €22 million. After two and a half years at Monaco, he joined Leicester City on loan in January 2019. That move was made permanent in the summer with Leicester paying Monaco €45 million to secure his signature.
It’s now very possible that Tielemans will leave the King Power Stadium this summer with his contract with Leicester City expiring next summer. According to Ben Jacobs, both Arsenal and Manchester United are interested in the 25-year-old midfielder who isn’t keen on signing a contract extension at Leicester. Arsenal are yet to make a bid however Arsenal are strongly considering making a move for him and the player is keen on a move to the Emirates.Embed from Getty Images
Ben Jacobs also claims that United’s interest in the player is genuine and growing. He would be a far less complicated and cheaper option to De Jong and Ten Hag has put him on United’s midfield shortlist. However, Tielemans indicated under Rangnick that he wouldn’t be keen on a move to Old Trafford but Ten Hag may look to rediscover the possibility of signing him.
According to reports, Tielemans is available for around £30m this summer.
Tielemans has many qualities to his game. While Frenkie de Jong is superior at taking the ball from the centre-back and progressing the play as there are not many players better than him at that, Tielemans is still quite good at it. He averaged nearly six progressive passes per 90 minutes played in the last year, ranking him amongst the best in his position. He also averaged 5.86 passes into the final third as well as 1.14 passes into the penalty box which is quite impressive.Embed from Getty Images
Tielemans is also good at shooting, especially from long range. He’s also quite creative. He’s capable of playing passes to unlock a defence and he averaged nearly 3 shot-creating actions per 90 last season. He is also a competent set-piece taker which United could use. The Belgian is also good at dribbling and while he prefers his right foot, he is also quite good with his left. In addition to this, he’s a solid tackler.
Another one of Tielemans’ strengths is his goal contributions. Last season, he managed seven goals and five assists in all competitions which is impressive.
WeaknessesEmbed from Getty Images
At 5’’9, Tielemans isn’t the best aerially. He only won 56% of his aerial duels last season in the Premier League. Tielemans also gave away 4 penalties in the Premier League last season which is far too many. He needs to learn to be more careful in the opposition’s box. The Belgian has also been known to let games drift past him due to an unwillingness to maintain match sharpness for the full 90 minutes.
While Tielemans’ overall passing ability is decent, he only completed 51% of his long-range passes last season in the Premier League which is far less than De Jong who completed 83% of his attempted long passes in La Liga last season.
Where would he fit in at United?Embed from Getty Images
If United signed Tielemans, he would play in a double pivot, most likely alongside Fred or Scott McTominay. From what we’ve seen from United under Ten Hag, it’s clear we need a midfielder in the double pivot who can progress the ball. While De Jong would definitely be the ideal player to fill that role, Tielemans can also do it.
Youri Tielemans is definitely a quality player and if United sign him for £30m, it could be considered astute business. However, Ten Hag has made it extremely clear that he wants Frenkie de Jong and United have to do everything possible to get that deal over the line. United have been working on this deal since early May and it’s at the point now where it would be embarrassing if the deal fell through.
With that said, both Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba left United so the club should probably make a move for a second midfielder even if De Jong does sign. For the price, Tielemans is available for and the quality he has, his name is probably quite high up on United’s midfield shortlist.