Youri Tielemans - Anderlecht's teenage threat to Man Utd's Europa League hopes

Youri Tielemans Anderlecht
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The midfielder is only 19 but he has already been capped twice by Belgium and is destined to join one of Europe's top clubs


Anderlecht are well aware that it is only a matter of time before the lose Youri Tielemans to one of Europe's elite.

"Actually, it's already extraordinary that we have been able to enjoy three seasons of such talent," sporting director Herman van Holsbeeck admitted in January.

"Tielemans is on all lists of most promising young players in Europe. We know he is followed by big clubs."

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He's not wrong. Bayern Munich, Roma, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool have all scouted the 19-year-old, while Lukasz Plonowski claimed last August that his former team-mate even got a call from Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho before the start of the season.

Youri Tielemans Anderlecht

Friday's draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League means that Mourinho will now get to speak to Tielemans face to face next month, while the tie also offers the midfield sensation an excellent opportunity to further enhance his reputation as the most exciting young player in the world right now.

there are few teenagers who strike the ball as cleanly as Tielemans, who has been in sensational goalscoring form since the turn of the year, netting seven times in his eight Jupiler Pro League appearances since the winter break.

But would Tielemans prove quite so prolific against tougher teams? Ex-Tottenham striker Nico Claesen stated last month: "Succeeding in the Premier League is something different to excelling in Belgium. At Anderlecht, everything has always been relatively easy for him."

However, it is worth pointing out that Tielemans has also been excelling in the Europa League, helping his side reach the last eight with a string of dominant midfield performances, including three goals in the group stage.

Despite his tender age, Tielemans has emerged as a leader at Anderlecht, as evidenced by the fact that he was entrusted with the captain's armband for both legs of the round-of-32 tie with Zenit.

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As Van Holsbeeck notes: "He’s gone from a boy who played football for fun to a man with a lot of responsibility. His maturity is impressive and soon he’ll be a father, too."

Where he raises his child is still unclear, though, with Anderlecht set to cash in on Tielemans this summer. A bidding war looks inevitable and it remains to be seen who will come out on top.

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Former team-mate Fabrice N’Sakala told Goal last year that the one thing Tielemans knows for sure is that he will move abroad.

"He’s very aware of things,” the full-back revealed. "He knows that his future will be elsewhere. The clubs that wish to recruit him are all champions. It’s a mentality that he will have to adopt too. I don’t stop telling him that.

“But he's a complete player. He can play long or short, has great shooting technique. I speak to him a lot and if he continues like he is today, he can go really far."

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Claesen admits that he would like to see Tielemans sign for Arsenal, believing that he would have a better chance of breaking into the first team at the Emirates than most other big clubs.

However, next month the Belgium international will have the perfect chance to show United, Mourinho and the watching world that he is worthy of a place in any starting line-up.

Mourinho could well end up regretting not managing to persuade Tielmans to have come to Old Trafford sooner!