Who is Youri Tielemans? We profile exciting Anderlecht midfielder

Youri Tielemans of Anderlecht

With both Manchester clubs and Chelsea, as well as Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, having reportedly been linked with Anderlecht midfielder Youri Tielemans, we profile the young Belgian.

Factfile

Age: 18

Place of birth: Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium

Club: Anderlecht

Position: Midfield

He is a phenomenon. There are not many players better than him.
Former Anderlecht and Sweden midfielder Par Zetterberg

Background

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Tielemans has been with Anderlecht, his hometown club, since joining their youth setup aged just five, with the player even continuing his education until the age of 18 while trying to break through at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.

In July 2013, less than three months after his 16th birthday, Tielemans made his first-team bow for the Belgian giants against Lokeren, making him his country's fourth-youngest top-flight debutant, and he has barely looked back since.

The youngster then followed up that feat by becoming the youngest Belgian - and the third youngest player ever - to play in the Champions League at the age of 16 years and 148 days, when he featured for Anderlecht against Olympiakos.

 Youri Tielemans
Image: Tielemans featured against Spurs in the UEFA Europa League in October

In each of his first two seasons at Anderlecht, Tielemans was voted Young Footballer of the Year (2014 and 2015), to go alongside other prizes such as Belgian Talent of the Year (2014) and Belgium's most promising newcomer (2015).

And already the 18-year-old has made over 100 appearances for the 'Purple and White' in partnership with experienced Belgium international midfielder Steven Defour, with his displays having recently been rewarded with a five-year contract extension by his employers.

Meanwhile, on the international stage, Tielemans - who is also eligible to play for DR Congo through his mother - has played for the Belgium U15 and U16 sides, before now starring for his country's renowned U21s.

However, it is expected that Tielemans will soon earn a call-up to the Belgium senior team.

Style of play

Yoeri Tielemans is chased down by Eric Dier
Image: Tielemans has been compared to former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard

Tielemans played as a deep-lying holding midfielder in his first campaign for Anderlecht, but manager Besnik Hasi then decided to push the player further forward into a position from where he could do more damage to the opposition.

Tielemans responded by scoring eight goals in all competitions last season, many spectacular efforts from distance which have led to him being likened to former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard.

Meanwhile, the head of Anderlecht's youth department, Jean Kindermans, has compared Tielemans to Zenit St Petersburg's Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel.

Strengths

Youri Tielemans
Image: Tielemans also played against Arsenal in the Champions League in 2014

Tielemans is two-footed, has pace to burn, an impressive range of passing for someone so young and he also possesses a lethal shot both from distance and set plays.

The Belgian is also flexible enough to be used either as a defensive midfielder sitting in front of the back four, where his accurate passing is ideal, or as a box-to-box attacking midfielder.

But it looks like that latter role, where he began his career in Anderlecht's youth team and from where his shooting abilities and uncanny knack of timing his runs into the box are an asset, suits Tielemans' skills best.

And despite being just 18, the youngster - whose idol is Zinedine Zidane - is already being lined up to captain Anderlecht at some point so highly do his club rate his leadership skills.

What they said…

Youri Tielemans of Anderlecht
Image: Tielemans has been monitored by some of Europe's biggest clubs in recent months

"He is a phenomenon. There are not many players better than him." (Former Anderlecht and Sweden midfielder Par Zetterberg)

"We have always known Tielemans was a super talent. Whenever anyone asked me who I thought would go far, I would mention his name first." (Mohammed Ouahbi, Anderlecht youth coach)

"With his skills and quality, he forces opponents into mistakes. He can play the long ball and launch attacks. His age is not important. He will only get better with playing matches." (Paul van Himst, former Anderlecht and Belgium star)

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