Youri Tielemans: Is he a better fit for Leicester than Tottenham?
Belgian midfielder has been linked with a Premier League move
By Ben McAleer, WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 30/01/19 2:40pm
Is Youri Tielemans a better fit for Leicester than Tottenham? We find out why that could be the case by examining the WhoScored.com stats…
As one Belgian departs, another is linked with a move to Tottenham. Mousa Dembele parted ways with Spurs after six-and-a-half years with the midfielder's switch to Guangzhou R&F confirmed earlier this month. With Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama both, at the time of his move, injured, Dembele's exit left Spurs short of midfield options.
For a prolonged spell, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko played every minute with just teenager Oliver Skipp for backup as Mauricio Pochettino's options were limited. He may have welcomed Dier and Wanyama back to fitness recently, but the lack of space to rotate clearly had an impact as Spurs crashed out of two cups inside a week.
New clubs join race for Tielemans
Sky Sports understands that a host of Premier League clubs are interested in the Monaco midfielder.
With Deadline Day looming, Spurs are still linked with a first move for a player since the capture of Lucas Moura from PSG 12 months ago, this coming despite Pochettino on Tuesday admitting: "A few days ago I was very optimistic about some options to sign - realistic options to sign - but today no, I'm not optimistic." And while another Ligue 1 raid seemed to be on the cards, Spurs appear to have been pipped to the finish line in this race.
Leonardo Jardim's reappointment as Monaco boss last week spells the end of Youri Tielemans' time at the Stade Louis II. The pair were never close during Jardim's first stint at the club and he was open to the possibility of cashing in on the young Belgian just 18 months after his arrival from Anderlecht. Spurs were believed to be leading the race to land Tielemans, but Leicester now appear to have jumped to the front of the queue.
That will go some way to correcting a problem role for Claude Puel. A run of three defeats in their last four league matches going into Wednesday's trip to Liverpool means that Leicester are performing below the standards expected of them by the supporters.
Tielemans has the ability to change that. In an uncertain environment like the current Monaco setup, his development was always going to stall, yet he has still impressed when called upon.
Despite Monaco's perilous position in Ligue 1, only Houssem Aouar (6) has scored more goals than Tielemans (5) among central midfielders in France's top tier this season. In a Leicester side, whose top scorer from central midfield is defensive-minded Wilfred Ndidi with two, the Belgian will offer Puel and Leicester an additional attacking dimension, either from deep or in a more advanced role.
Tielemans is not just a goal-getting midfielder. He has the tools to succeed as a true No 8 too. He isn't one to shirk the defensive responsibilities that comes with playing in the middle of the park having made 45 tackles in France's top tier this term, ranking sixth of those aged 21 and under in Ligue 1.
Compared to every Leicester player, that would place him third behind Ricardo Pereira (82) and Ndidi (72) this season, so while Puel seems pretty set on a midfield partnership of Ndidi and Nampalys Mendy, Tielemans affords the Leicester boss a midfield alternative and that increase in competition will only boost the Foxes.
He may have developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com style of play of 'likes to dribble', but his success rate is not so good. Since the start of the 2017/18 season, a dribble success rate of just 53.8 per cent is a poor return, and for a possible replacement for Dembele, that's too low considering the latter's success rate over the same period was 84.3 per cent.
So, could Spurs' loss be Leicester's gain? Given the different approaches of the teams, Tielemans would perhaps be a better fit for the latter. Spurs' possession return of 56.3 per cent is higher than Leicester's (50.4 per cent), so there is a greater need for a controlling midfielder in Pochettino's squad than a goalscoring No 8, which would benefit Leicester more.
Spurs have previously struggled with a similar player to Tielemans in Paulinho, so why the run the risk of adding a player who may fail to adapt to Pochettino's system? What's more, in Dembele's departure, a foreign player spot has opened up in Spurs' Champions League squad and with that expected to be snapped up by Juan Foyth, Tielemans, while adding another central midfielder to the ranks, would subsequently miss out on a place.
Considering Leicester have scored more goals from counter-attacking situations (six) in the Premier League this season, Tielemans and his surging runs from deep means his style of play could be a better fit for the Foxes.
Spurs may offer him the higher platform to keep him in a brighter spotlight, yet Leicester are a team that would benefit from Tielemans' attacking approach and in the process, afford Puel greater tactical flexibility, finally helping the Leicester boss move from the somewhat rigid 4-2-3-1 setup to a fluid 4-3-3.
It's here where we may finally see the youngster beginning to fulfil the potential shown when he broke onto the scene in 2013.