18 Midfielder Anderlecht Belgium
Having been with Anderlecht since he was very young, Youri Tielemans’ potential has been obvious for years and there has been a buzz around him since 2013. As such it’s a little unnerving when you realise that he is still only a teenager. He doesn’t feel like a teenager and to his credit, he doesn’t play like an 18 year-old either.
Tielemans was barely 16 when he made his first team debut for Anderlecht and when he was given his first taste of Champions League action in October 2013 against Olymipakos, he became one of the youngest to ever feature in the competition – only Celestine Babayaro and Alen Halilovic have been younger.
2015 has been…
He has already played over 100 games for the club and helped himself to two Belgian Young Footballer of the Year awards along the way. The last youngster to claim the awards twice was a certain Vincent Kompany and the pair ended last season as international team-mates when Tielemans was included in the squad for Belgium’s final two matches of the season. Although he didn’t play in either of the wins over France or Wales, his call up was a clear sign that Marc Wilmots has been impressed by his development as a player.
Initially deployed as the anchor in midfield when he took his first steps in the Anderlecht side, Youri has been encouraged to be more and more adventurous in his play as he has bedded into the team. He compliments Steven Defour and Dennis Praet nicely in the midfield of the pitch; with his role matching that of Axel Witsel, a former midfield partner of Defour’s.
Competent with either foot, he has recently started to develop an eye for goal. Blessed with excellent technical ability and a tremendous engine, Youri is slowly becoming a complete box-to-box midfielder. His temperament is a huge positive in his favour. He proved himself to be a completely down-to-earth kid by continuing to focus on his schooling while making waves in the first team; whereas others before him may have let the initial success go to their heads.
If we are being critical then we’d like to see him improve the defensive side of his game while he is still learning – both when pressuring the man with the ball and trying to retain shape in face of opposition possession. For now, he’s only 18 and doing everything right and it’s hard to really pick too many faults with that.
If he can keep his head down for this season, continue to improve as a player and help push Anderlecht back into the top two of the Jupiler League; he might just be one of the 23 names in Wilmots’ squad come June. His chance to shine won’t come until Russia in a couple of years, unless there are a few midfield injuries but it won’t be any less than he deserves for the last 30 months.
C+ Keep going and you can force Marc to take you to France
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