Belgium have become accustomed to producing stars and there seems to be no sign of them stopping. The golden generation of Belgian football has already seen the rise of Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Witsel and Dembele to name but a few. The latest addition to that list comes in the form of 19-year-old Youri Teilemans.
For the last few years, Youri has been considered by many to be one of European football’s brightest prospects and he has lived up to that billing. We profile the teenage sensation who has been taking the world by storm.
Youri was born in Sint- Pieters- Leeuw in Belgium. His talent was recognised from a very young age. Tielemans joined Anderlecht at the age of 5 in 2002. He remained at Anderlecht for his entire youth career, making his first team debut at the ripe age of 16 against Lokeren, thus becoming the 4th youngest player to have played for the club.
Youri, at 16 years and 148 days, then became the youngest Belgian and the third-youngest player ever to play in the Champions League , when he featured for Anderlecht against Olympiakos. Tielemans was voted Young Footballer of the Year in his first two seasons at Anderlecht. He was also voted Belgium's most promising newcomer in 2015.
Currently, at the age of 18, he has made over 100 appearances for the Belgian giants. At the international level, Youri has been a regular in the youth ranks and has over 20 appearances in 3 different age groups. In June 2015, Tielemans earned a call-up to the senior squad for Belgium’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Wales
Tielemans is highly versatile, two-footed and has an extremely impressive range of passing.
He has the ability to be employed in multiple roles and positions- as the playmaker, making use of his fantastic passing skills and vision, or in a more holding role- utilising his retention and ball spreading abilities. Lauded for his movement and the timing of his runs, Youri is most suited for a box to box midfielder’s role.
The Belgian also has some serious pace to burn and possesses a lethal shot from distance. One of his major strengths is definitely his mental toughness. This has led to him being touted as the next captain of Anderlecht, a huge achievement for someone so young.
Youri is keen to learn from his mistakes( which are few and far between) and play with confidence and responsibility.
During his first ever press conference he was quoted as saying ” I like taking my responsibilities. The two little dips in form that I endured- one last season and then again in the early part of this season have helped me grow. You have to dare to impose yourself if you want to become great. I’ve always had the soul of a leader. Age is unimportant.”
Youri has very few weaknesses. One of the areas he seems to be lacking in is his ability in the final third. He has a low scoring rate for Anderlecht and his decision making has often come under scrutiny.
Not the greatest of tacklers, Teilemans completed only one-fourth of his challenges in the 2015/16 Champions league group stages, but that is set to improve as he gains more experience in a defensive role. With age, hard work and a little more experience, Teilemans is expected to be a finished product very soon.
Paul Van Himst, former Anderlecht and Belgium star said of Youri, “With his skills and quality, he forces opponents into mistakes. He can play the long ball and launch attacks. His age is not important. He will only get better with playing matches.”
What comes next:
Anderlecht would be keen on keeping hold of the Belgian prodigy for a few more seasons, but it seems unlikely. Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund have shown interest in the 19-year-old in past seasons, with Spurs and Liverpool the latest to join the hunt. It is just a matter of time before one of those teams makes an offer that Anderlecht cannot refuse.
Tielemans is still young and has a lot of time on his side, his move to a big club could only aide his development. Youri is certainly a player to keep an eye on as many expect him to be world class soon.
No matter where Tielemans ends up, he is bound to continue to attract the attention of top teams. One of the most talented midfielders Belgium have produced recently, he is bound to be a part of the national team sooner rather than later.
While most teenagers are still battling for a place in the first team, Tielemans is already a major part of it.Published 29 Jul 2016, 22:18 IST