It’s not often that teams beat Manchester United to a signing, but Youri Tielemans opted to join Leicester City ahead of potential interest from the Red Devils.
Whether that’s reflective of United’s recent decline or indicative of Brendan Rodgers’ ambitious intent remains to be seen but, crucially, the Foxes have acquired an excellent player.
Upon joining in January, the Belgian’s impact at the King Power Stadium was instantaneous. Despite only making 13 appearances for Leicester, Tielemans impressed greatly with the quality of his performances as illustrated by his statistical output. In 13 Premier League appearances – all of which were starts – the 22-year-old contributed towards eight goals – scoring three and assisting five times.
While such statistics are telling in discovering the £40m man’s importance to the team, his versatility and self-confidence are also valuable assets. Having completed a temporary move to Leicester in January, Tielemans spoke of his qualities to the club’s official website.
“I think it’s (box-to-box) my best position, but I can play in every position in midfield. Whenever the coach needs me, I can play in no.6, no.8 or no.10, but it’s true that I’m mostly a box-to-box player.”
“I like to attack. I think as a midfielder it’s really dangerous when you have a midfielder coming from the second line and trying to shoot or get into the box. It’s always difficult to defend, and I try to add this to me game. I think it will help the team.”
Naturally, Leicester supporters are delighted at signing a player of such pedigree and immense promise, and as one Foxes fan concluded, as per Leicestershire Live, the signing is “More evidence of the tremendous appeal and influence Rodgers has had on the playing side of our club – a great addition.”
Expectedly, beating Manchester United to Tielemans’ signing will heighten the already significant excitement surrounding the transfer. And, while the enthusiasm and the anticipation amplify the feel-good factor at the club, conceivably, one player who will undoubtedly be delighted with the transfer is Jamie Vardy.
The 32-year-old sustained his tremendous goal-scoring record last season with a total of 18 league goals.
In terms of joint goal participation, that’s the most prolific the former Monaco man has been in combination with any other player in his entire career.
For a talent who is still acclimatising to the physicality and frenzied pace of England’s top-flight, such a fruitful relationship with Vardy is promising at least and mouth-watering at best.
The most productive relationship Tielemans has shared with a teammate at club level has been with Anderlecht’s Alexandru Chipciu, with a joint goal contribution of four goals in 43 games – 3,084 minutes. This almost equates to a joint-goal contribution every 11 games, or in other terms, combining for a goal contribution every 771 minutes. Contrastingly, Vardy and Tielemans have almost combined for a goal contribution at roughly an average of every four games (344.33 minutes).
With more continuous involvement, the partnership could blossom into an essential component of Leicester’s attack.
One of the Belgian’s most valued attributes is his passing, particularly his useful knack of playing key passes – he averaged 1.2 key pass per game for the Foxes last season. Therefore, it’s wholly unsurprising that Vardy and Tielemans combine intelligently, particularly as the Belgian himself spoke of his willingness to attack and occupy advanced positions. The English striker’s skill set requires no introduction, and one senses that his relationship with Tielemans will prove instrumental this campaign.
With the signings of Ayoze Perez and Youri Tielemans sealed, there is an intriguing inkling that Leicester can upset the odds once more, having defied all expectations so gloriously under Claudio Ranieri during the 2015/16 season.
However, the ambition and the creativity shown by Rodgers contrasts sharply with the mundane pragmatism favoured by Claude Puel. Rodgers has won half of his ten games in charge at Leicester and having started the club’s transfer business meaningfully, the footholds of a promising season are forming for the Foxes, with Tielemans and Vardy poised to assume vital roles.
Success has eluded Rodgers during his time in England, having won all his managerial honours with Celtic, so where better to attempt to carve the next successful chapter of his career than at the home of the Premier League’s dream makers?
The foundations are setting. Now it’s time for the Foxes to hunt the league’s leading pack.