Being a mainstay in midfield with a team frequently competing in the Champions League is a lofty aspiration for most midfielders in the modern game. A select few do reach this level, mostly during the peaks of their careers (around 26/27), however Belgian wonderkid Youri Tielemans has already achieved this, by the tender age of 17.
He will also go down in the history books as the youngest Belgian player ever to compete in the Champions League, at the age of 16 years and 148 days.
Tielemans has cemented his place in the Anderlecht side, featuring in 35 games last season, scoring 6 goals and assisting 6, an impressive tally from centre-midfield.
Anderlecht, a team reknowned for its excellent youth system, producing players such as Romelu Lukaku, currently boasts a number of exciting talents at its disposal, namely Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dennis Praet and Tielemans himself.
This means that he is in good hands in aiding his development as a footballer and should look to stay in Belgium a few more years in order to hone his game or may suffer the same fate as players such as Raheem Sterling with ‘too much, too soon’.
Tielemans is usually deployed in a defensive, holding role, but has shown to be perfectly capable to play further up field and as a box-to-box midfielder – the latter seeming to be his preferred and best place in the centre.
His excellent control of the ball and fine distribution have caught the eye of many a football enthusiast, with his ability to dictate the tempo of games and pull the strings from midfield, his impressive performances in the Pro League and in Europe have prompted comparisons to Italian legend Andrea Pirlo.
This is made all the more impressive given the fact that Pirlo acquired and developed such skills over his long and illustrious career – Youri Tielemans has shown he can do it at the very start of his career, leaving many to speculate as to how much he can actually achieve in football.
Being the ‘go-to’ player in the Anderlecht side for set-pieces (an attribute usually reserved for the star player of the club) hasn’t affected his mindset at all, despite the added pressure and shows he has the attitude necessary to become a top player.
Like many young players, his main area of improvement is his concentration, but such a skill will develop with age,time and experience.
The 2015/16 season will prove to be an important season for Youri Tielemans, he’ll need to continue his current arc of development if he is to really attract the interest of Europe’s top clubs in the future.
Either way, Anderlecht and Belgium have a diamond in Tielemans, albeit a rough one, but a player which could prove exceptionally valuable to each side in years to come.