Youri Tielemans And Leicester City’s Search For A Breath Of Fresh Air
Youri Tielemans could be a hot property in the January transfer window. Leicester City’s struggles and demise at the start of the 2022/23 Premier League season, may see the club needing to scramble in an attempt to avoid relegation. A drop-down a tier would be a disastrous outcome for the East Midlands club, who less than a decade ago were on top of the charts in England.
Youri Tielemans Speaks Out
One of the first big Leicester players to speak about how tough life is at the bottom of the Premier League table was midfielder Youri Tielemans. The Belgian moved to the King Power in 2019 permanently, having spent some time there on loan with the club.
At the start of the 2022/23 Premier League season, former Champions Leicester took one point from their opening seven matches. Goals flooded against them through their leaky defence. Seven matches into the campaign and the Foxes had conceded at an average of more than three goals per fixture.
That included heavy losses against Arsenal, Brighton and Tottenham in which they conceded at least four goals each. Tielemans admitted that the Leicester squad were feeling the pressure of their bad start to the season and the mounting speculation over whether manager Brendan Rodgers should stay or go.
For Tielemans there may well be an undercurrent of frustration in Leicester’s situation. In the summer he was the focus of plenty of transfer talk in football news. But the Belgian midfielder rejected opportunities to go elsewhere and instead stay at the club. Regret over that decision doesn’t appear to be on his mind, however.
A Different Leicester For Youri Tielemans
When Leicester made a permanent move for Tielemans in 2019, the club were in a much different position. During the second half of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, Tielemans had played 13 times for Leicester on loan from Ligue 1 side Monaco.
He made a good impact with the club at the heart of the midfield while on loan. So a full transfer deal was done in July 2019 to keep him at the King Power permanently for around a £32 million initial payment. The move for Tielemans was a big investment for the club. But they saw that they could get returns from him on the pitch.
In the 2019/20 season, Leicester City finished in fifth place in the Premier League. But a poor finish to the season, in which the Foxes lost three of their final four matches, proved costly. It meant that they missed out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League by a single point to Chelsea.
Missed Champions League Chance Spells Trouble?
That missed place in the Champions League may well have been a pivotal point in the progress of Leicester. Missing out on the revenue from a place in the Champions League group stage was a massive loss to their finances. While Leicester did go into the Europa League for the 2021/22 season it is just not the same as the injection of cash that comes from playing in UEFA’s top-tier competition.
It also meant that the Foxes were, during the summer of 2021, a less appealing decision for transfer targets. It’s easy to think about alternatives and what could have been. Had Leicester been in the 2021/22 Champions League, that could have helped them strengthen their squad. They would have been able to spend new money that would have been coming, and attracting players with the promise of Champions League football is huge. New Leicester City players may well have flooded in.
Instead, they had to sit back and pretty much keep things as they were in terms of their squad. By the end of the 2021/22 season, Leicester City had slumped to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League table, a spot achieved only with a late burst of form. The knock-on effect from that was another lack of activity in the 2022 transfer window ahead of the new season.
Lack of 2022 Transfers for Leicester
In preparation for the 2022/23 top-flight campaign, Leicester purchased centre-half Wout Faes from Stade Rennes. That was their biggest purchase at around £17 million. There was precious little other movement into the club, however. Leicester did have a big influx of funds from the massive sale of Wesley Fofana to Chelsea.
So money came in, from what was a smart piece of business by the Foxes, selling a one-season defender for a massively inflated price. Should Leicester’s position still see them in a potential relegation scrap in January 2022, the Foxes may well find themselves having to spend some of that Fofana money.
The summer of 2022 was tough for Leicester, and the results at the beginning of the campaign made it even tougher. The question is, will the former Premier League champions be able to recover?
The Rapid Rise And A Bubble Burst?
Leicester came a long way in a short amount of time. They found themselves in the third tier of English football for the start of the 2008/09 season. Having fallen outside of the top two tiers for the first time ever, they did make immediate amends by earning promotion from League One at the first attempt.
A huge investment in the club by a Thai-led consortium which was fronted by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his son Aiyawatt really was the foundation of that big rise to the top that the Foxes enjoyed.
There were only seven years between their relegation to League One and Leicester City being crowned the champions of England. Their 2015/16 Premier League title remains one of the most memorable ever that the division has churned up.
It was a rapid rise and the club did a solid job overall of solidifying their position as a top-ten team in the Premier League. The bubble looks like it could have burst.
Youri Tielemans A Target
If the situation hasn’t changed for Leicester City come the 2023 January transfer window, then that could pose the club further problems. They are likely going to be the target of below-market value bids for some of their top players, including Youri Tielemans.
In the summer of 2022 fellow Premier League side Arsenal appeared to be very interested in the Belgian. That interest never developed into a serious chase for Tielemans, but the race to get his signature may very well intensify in January 2022.
That’s because Tielemans will be out of contract in the summer of 2023 when his time at Leicester City runs out. So the club will face the situation of losing him for nothing come that point unless, of course, they come to an agreement where he signs something new with them.
Whether Leicester gets relegated or not, Tielemans may not fancy an extension at the King Power. Things clearly are not panning out as an ideal situation there, and the 25-year-old may look to move on. The latest sports news has Manchester United potentially having him on their radar.
Old Trafford Move For Youri Tielemans?
Manchester United will know that they can knock on Leicester’s door in January and make an offer for Tieleman’s that is well below his market value. Tielemans is currently rated around the £50 million mark.
Leicester would likely not get anything near that kind of offer from Manchester United. The Red Devils in turn, could see him as a bargain upgrade over someone like Scott McTominay or Fred. But the Foxes won’t really be in too much of a bargaining position to do too much about the player valuation.
A big display at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in December with Belgium, could shine an even bigger spotlight on Tielemans. The more he thrives there, the more the interest from other clubs will go up. Belgium are among the leading pack of contenders to lift the World Cup later in the year. Tielemans has more than 50 caps for his country having made his international debut back in 2016.
From Anderlecht Via Monaco and Leicester To Where?
After coming through the youth ranks at Belgian club Anderlecht, Tielemans received his first pro contract with the club when he was just 16 years old. He was the fourth-youngest player to appear in the Belgian Pro League when he made his debut in 2013.
Later that same year he appeared for Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League and Tielemans set a record as the youngest ever Belgian player to appear in the competition. After impressing during his time with the club, inevitable serious transfer attention came.
In 2017 Tielemans moved to Monaco, who were at the time, the reigning Ligue 1 champions in France. But he failed to live up to his billing with the club, making only 47 appearances for them. That was a bonus for Leicester who then signed him up and gave the attacking midfielder a firm spot in the heart of their team.
Where does the future of Tielemans lie? Manchester United? A Tielemans Liverpool link perhaps who may be keen to refresh their midfield ranks? The calling of a team with UEFA Champions League positioning is likely to be the destination of choice for the Belgian. Leicester transfer news is going to be fascinating to watch.
A Breath Of Fresh Air
For the autumn fixtures of the 2022 UEFA Nations League, Youri Tielemans was called up to the Belgium squad. At the time he said that getting away from Leicester was a “breath of fresh air” because of the situation at the top-flight club being so tough.
Tielemans went on to say that “It’s clear that things are not going well at the club. We are doing everything we can as a team.” Sometimes the old adage of ‘a rest being as good as a change‘ rings true.
Leicester and Tielemans will both be hoping that is the case after the international break. There’s a long season ahead and a potentially stressful one, stacked with change.