A Beginner’s Guide to Youri Tielemans
Right, it’s time to catch-up on the first Aston Villa signings of the summer transfer window for the 2023/24 season.
Before we do any deep-diving on here and the My Old Man Said podcast, let’s get everyone up to scratch with the brass tacks skinny guide of Villa’s signings, by fielding the FIVE ‘W’s’ of the player.
Who are they? What are they about? Where will they fit at Villa? Worries about them? And, most importantly, why the hell did we sign them?
Youri Tielemans The 5 W’s
Youri Marion A. Tielemans is a Belgian international midfielder who has just turned 26. After coming through the RSC Anderlecht youth system and then going on to play almost 200 games for the Belgian side in all competitions, he made the move to AS Monaco, before landing at Leicester City in January 2019 on loan before making the move permanent that summer. In four-and-a-half seasons with Leicester, he’s won the FA Cup and Community Shield. He has also played European football for all his three teams so far.
A season or two ago, any team wouldn’t have been able to sign Tielemans for less than £40 million. For Aston Villa to pick him up without having to pay a transfer fee, should turn out to be smart business. Call it revenge for losing Marc Albrighton on a free to Leicester City.
Tielemans is a classy midfielder with over 150 Premier League appearances, 21 goals, and 21 assists in the bank. He plays with plenty of bite in the tackle, as his 17-league yellow cards show, yet he hasn’t been dismissed. Of course, he also has a blockbuster of a shot. The FA Cup winning strike against Chelsea in 2021 is the best evidence of this on a major stage.
Where he will play is a more than interesting debate. A player as good as Tielemans would have waltzed into any Villa midfield in the last decade. But does he get into the current Villa one? With McGinn, Luiz, Kamara and Ramsey ending the season in fine form, Tielemans will have to earn his place.
Why not? When a top midfielder becomes available through circumstance, you need to take advantage. When Villa were relegated in 2016, Idissia Gueye was snapped up by Everton before making it to PSG.
The signing of Tielemans also gives Unai Emery genuine rotation options in the middle for the first time. If any of the previously mentioned four get a suspension, injury or drop out of form, then Tielemans is not a downgrade by any means.
Yes, there maybe more urgent needs in terms of ultimately improving the first XI, but opportunity knocked here for Villa. For as well as his contract situation at Leicester, Tielemans will no doubt be able to stay in his current home in Leicestershire, which is just under an hours drive away from Bodymoor Heath.
Is this another Gavin McCann signing? Where Villa swooped in to pick at the carcass of a relegated team, like they did with Sunderland for McCann? Like any of the Leicester players that will transfer after their relegation, there is a worry over their performance levels and mentality.
How can a team with Tielemans, Harvey Barnes and James Maddison get relegated with barely a whimper?
Tielemans seems to be the scapegoat out of the bunch. A simple search online will find Leicester fans saying that he ran his contract down and didn’t put in the performances last season. This isn’t a mentality that fits at Unai Emery’s Aston Villa, but there are of course two sides to every story.
Another concern is the effect of the wages a player signing on a free transfer usually commands. Aston Villa look to have a tight-knit changing room since Emery came in. The last thing they need is Tielemans coming in on massive wages with a questionable work ethic disrupting the balance.
Fans like to celebrate free transfers as great business, but there’s no free lunches in the Premier League. They’ll be a tasty signing on fee, and then if he’s anywhere near the £100k-a-week bracket, that’s costing Villa £20m+ across his mooted four-year contract.
Despite this, a motivated Tielemans is a top six Premier League player, and with the extra fixtures Villa hope to have in the Europa Conference League, an option like Youri Tielemans at 26 years of age on a free transfer is too good to let pass by.