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Tielemans was in right place at wrong time at Monaco but could be a game-changer for Leicester

21:05 WAT 31/01/2019
Youri Tielemans Monaco
The Belgium international will offer an improvement to Leicester's midfield as they continue their attempts to diversify away from counterattacking

Youri Tielemans was in the right place at the wrong time. Joining Monaco in the summer of 2017 was supposed to be his big step in the right direction.

He has long been regarded as the breakout star-in-waiting of Belgian football and the Ligue 1 champions should have been the perfect move. But that summer Monaco were hollowed out.

Headlining the departures was wonderkid Kylian Mbappe, who moved to Paris St-Germain on a controversial loan deal.

Manchester City picked up both Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, and Tiemoue Bakayoko joined Chelsea.

The standard of those players coming in – overall - was not as high and Monaco had no chance of overhauling PSG and repeating their feat of winning the French championship and remaining competitive in the Champions League.

And within a remodelled squad, Tielemans struggled to find his place.

The return of Leonardo Jardim and the subsequent departure of the young Belgium midfielder this month are very much in sync. Jardim is a naturally conservative coach and prefers to play with two deep midfield players to stymie opposition attacks.

The platform of Bakayoko and Joao Moutinho in the title-winning team gave Bernardo, Mbappe and Radamel Falcao the freedom to win games.

Tielemans though is a very different kind of footballer to Bakayoko. While he can win the ball adeptly, he is primarily a playmaker with an eye for goal. A midfield of Tielemans and Moutinho was not built to coexist, certainly not in a Jardim system.

He made only 19 starts in his first season at Monaco and never truly convinced. And this season – though Tielemans has played more often – things all around him have plummeted.

Once Moutinho was sold to Wolves, Monaco simply did not have enough quality in the squad any more. Thierry Henry, who replaced Jardim, was often forced to play with unproven young players before his harsh dismissal last week.

As such, Tielemans had no one to play with.

He is a tempo-setter; the kind of player who makes others play better. But he requires a well-functioning unit around him. As has proven with Monaco, he is the type of player who can fail in the wrong system.

However, Leicester City fans should be excited by this signing. He is a premium talent and one who could very well go on to world class level. They are picking him up at a time when his stock is not at its highest, but he should not be written off as damaged goods.

He will come into the Leicester line-up and immediately dictate the play. He should slot in alongside Wilfried Ndidi but see a lot more of the ball than the Nigerian. That is if Puel can be persuaded to ease Namplays Mendy out of the lineup. Leicester fan frustration has centred on the team's inability to get the ball moving effectively through the midfield and to connect the defence and attack. Tielemans is a progressive option in this sense and should bring about an improvement.

He is comfortable receiving a pass to feet in midfield with his back to the opposition goal and excels in turning with the ball either left or right. He has a happy knack of being able to go past people in midfield and that should help Leicester tilt the numbers game further up the field. And if Tielemans finds himself with a chance to strike at goal, expect him to take it. He possesses a goal threat from distance.

Tielemans may only be 21 but already has vast experience. He started in the Anderlecht first team aged only 16, like Romelu Lukaku before him, and captained the team when he won his second Belgian title at the age of 20.

He forced his way into Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad for the World Cup last summer and featured in their most memorable victory at an international tournament, that being the win against Brazil in the quarter finals.

Those who have worked with Tielemans speak of a top mentality and describe him as a midfielder who is technically gifted. His range of passing – short or long – is unerring and that should help a Leicester team attempting to become more possession-based under Claude Puel. He will be tasked with becoming the main man.

Monaco might well come to be regarded as a mis-step but the move to Leicester will reinvigorate him. This could well be a game-changing signing.