Youri Tielemans: The Next Liverpool Midfield Star?

Danny Corcoran
Read Time:4 Minute, 58 Second

Rumours are intensifying on Georginio Wijnaldum’s Liverpool future. There are doubts over Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s long-term fitness. 

Xherdan Shaqiri is seemingly always on the verge of a move away from the club. It seems increasingly likely that the club will look to sign a midfielder in the summer window.

There have been a number of rumours so far on who that may be. Renato Sanches, Rodrigo De Paul and Yves Bissouma have seen the most links so far, with many more expected to be rumoured with a move to Anfield over the coming months. 

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One player that has yet to be linked to the club – bar some shouts from fans – is Leicester City star Youri Tielemans.

The Belgian midfielder has been a constant in the Foxes midfield as they find themselves fighting at the top of the table again this season.

Tielemans would no doubt be one of, if not the, most expensive targets. With a contract until 2023 and playing for a Premier League rival, he may be difficult to obtain.

However, Leicester do sell to other English clubs, as we’ve seen with Maguire to United and Chilwell; Kanté to Chelsea.  

In this article, we take a look at how the Belgian may fit into this Liverpool side and how he compares to Wijnaldum.

His Career So Far

Tielemans first started to make waves in the football world at one of Belgium’s biggest clubs, RSC Anderlecht.

After becoming the youngest Belgian to play in the Champions League at 16 years and 148 days, people started to take notice. 

FourFourTwo magazine went as far as calling him the next Belgian superstar back in 2015.

He went on to make 145 appearances for the Brussels club, winning two league titles in a four-year period. 

This then earned him a move to one of Europe’s most promising clubs at the time, AS Monaco. The French club were coming off a title-winning season and Tielemans seemed like the perfect fit.

At a club that had developed talents such as Bernardo Silva, James Rodriguez and Liverpool’s own Fabinho, Tielemans struggled to fit in.

His first season at the club brought the unwanted award of being in France Football’s XI for ‘Flops of the Season’ – an award also held by Divock Origi.

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Leicester City then offered Tielemans an escape from his nightmare in France, initially signing until the end of the season in January 2019. He hit the ground running at the East Midlands club and was rumoured to have clubs such as Manchester United vying for his signature.

In the following summer, Leicester secured his services for £40M. From there, he’s gone on to be one of the Foxes most vital players. 

Style of Play – Missing Piece for Liverpool

The midfielder is still only 23 years of age, but has touted for greatness since he was 16 years old. He is a player that thrives with the ball at his feet, and finds particular strength in Shot Creating Actions at 2.26 per 90.

In comparison, Reds midfielder Gini Wijnaldum creates just 1.68 per 90. The two midfielders are even further apart in Goal Creating Actions, with the Belgian creating 0.44 to Wijnaldum’s 0.05 per 90.

This suggests that Tielemans is much more decisive and risk-taking in possession of the ball, and looks to be more clinical in his passing that the Dutchman. This is further shown in passing stats, with a noticeable difference in pass completion (80.5% vs. 92.6%).

One area of the game that Tielemans is renowned for is his long-range shooting. He is currently on 5 goals this season whilst on xG of just 3.2. His average distance of shots is 23.3 yards out (Wijnadlum’s is just 16.8).

This season he has scored twice from outside the box, with a total xG of just 0.09 from these attempts.

Long-range shooting is something this Liverpool currently lacks (outside of Fabinho who is currently at CB). Regaining this threat could add a new dimension to this Liverpool side. 

The player also thrives at dribbling the ball (75% success rate) and is rarely injured, having played 97% of available game time in the league this season. One area that the Belgian could improve is his defensive duties.

He is particularly weak at defending against the dribble – just a 19.6% success rate in the league this season. Liverpool’s midfielders are asked a lot of in the defensive side of the game. This is one area that Tielemans would have to improve if he moved to Merseyside. 

The Likelihood

With little to no concrete links between the club and the player, this can be put down to more wishful thinking than anything else.

However, football transfers are a fast-paced environment and Liverpool keep their cards close to their chest. 

It seems more probable than ever that the Reds are in for a big summer. It seems even more probable that midfield will be a key area that is targeted.

Leicester are known to not be afraid to sell to Premier League rivals – if the price is right. Harry Maguire, N’golo Kante and Ben Chilwell have all joined English teams in recent years.  

However, Tielemans is arguably more talented than each of these players (Kante excluded as he had a release clause). The fee could be astronomical when you consider United paid £85M for Maguire This is an unlikely transfer but one that would make a lot of sense for Klopp’s side.

Read more by Danny Corcoran

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