Having burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager learning his trade in Belgium, Tielemans quickly became one of Europe’s most coveted youngsters. The 20-year-old made a brave and calculated decision to ignore interest from Europe’s elite, instead opting to continue his development in France with the Ligue 1 champions – having secured a £20m move in the summer.
Blessed with footballing intelligence, an excellent passing range and the ability to score goals from various distances, Tielemans has the capability to play across midfield with great effect.
Tielemans is a wonderkid who was granted his opportunity at the deep end early. Despite failure in the Champions League group stages, then Anderlecht boss John van den Brom opted to start the 16-year-old against PSG and Olympiakos, which just reiterated how highly-rated he was.
Despite the convincing manner of defeats, Youri ultimately benefited from the experience – which has helped shape him into the leader he is now. He leads by example on the pitch and his development over the past few seasons are testament to that. Interest in his services continued to intensify last term and he knew consistent displays were crucial if he was to truly prove his readiness for the next step.
16 goals and 13 assists in 48 appearances (excluding qualification fixtures) was the perfect way to do just that, either playing as a central midfielder or further forward in the number ten role. Allowing him the freedom to create chances at will whilst refusing to neglect his defensive responsibilities made Tielemans a joy to watch, as he captained the side on a handful of occasions and enhanced his reputation in the process. It was a brave but calculated decision to join Monaco for £20m in the summer, ignoring speculation from elsewhere including the Premier League, where it’s likely he would not have received regular first-team football with the clubs who have been scouting his performances.
Looking Ahead: He’ll want to book his place on the plane to Russia next summer as part of Belgium’s World Cup squad, by impressing Roberto Martinez and the coaching staff enough to trust him in midfield. Currently sidelined until January with a meniscus injury, he will be hoping for a swift and full recovery while equally being able to prove his worth on a weekly basis in France with Monaco.
Leonardo Jardim’s side have struggled in Europe but still have an opportunity to finish the campaign strongly despite a significant part of their talented squad being sold to various clubs in the summer. Tielemans has quickly had to become accustomed to a new playing style, different position, expectations and responsibilities to fulfill, but a player with his ambition should find no problem settling in with the defending Ligue 1 champions.
This piece first appeared here, on Outside of the Boot’s #100BYP feature.