2017 22under22 Countdown – #13: Youri Tielemans


“Tielemans is on all lists of most promising young players in Europe. We know he is followed by big clubs.”
– Herman van Holsbeek, Anderlecht Sporting Director

Date of Birth: May 7, 1997 (19 years old)
Nationality: Belgian
Position: Central Midfielder
Club Appearances: 128 (25 goals)
International Appearances: 3
EiF Ability Rating: 64

*EiF Ability Rating is a representation of a combination of the player’s current ability and potential ability. It is determined by multiple rounds of voting, and then an addition of the scores given by each judge. The maximum score a player can have is 80.*

We continue our EiF’s 2017 22under22 project, in which we will reveal the top 22 players in the world who were born no earlier than 1995, with #13, Youri Tielemans. The young Anderlecht star has already amassed over 120 caps in the Belgian League. The box to box midfielder is in the midst of one of his best seasons, and has already recorded 17 goals and 10 assists. His twitter-famous goals have many fans of Europe’s elite teams urging their clubs to do whatever it takes to sign Youri Tielemans.

Youri Tielemans debuted for Anderlecht as just a 16-year-old when he came on as a substitute for American Sacha Kljestan on July 18, 2013. Since then, Tielemans has become the youngest Belgian to ever play in the Champions League and has won the Belgian Young Player of the Year award twice. His performances for the Belgian champions have earned him three caps for the Belgian National Team. The prodigal young player is set to become a regular in the Red Devils’ squad that features the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Kevin de Bruyne.


TielemansYouri Tielemans has scored 17 goals so far this year. That is 11 more than last year.
Photo: (Twitter)

Most soccer fans think of spectacular long-range goals when they think of Youri Tielemans. His highlight reel has made waves around twitter, and rightfully so. His ability to strike a ball from distance is a great strength of his. Early on in his career, Tielemans would often elect to pass the ball off when he had space at the top of the box. Now, the young Belgian will not hesitate to shoot whenever he is allowed space. This newfound confidence in his shot has seen his goals tally skyrocket and has added a new element to his game. Tielemans is essentially two-footed when it comes to his shooting ability. On numerous occasions, the youngster has beaten the keeper from outside the box with both feet.

While he prefers his right foot, Tielemans’ left foot is not far behind. This allows for him to beat his defender both ways and make incisive passes with both feet. It is not often that a player of his quality is so comfortable on both feet. Tielemans is also capable of successfully playing a variety of different kinds of passes. He loves playing long balls and switching the play, his through balls around the penalty box are always dangerous, and his short passing is quick and technical. As a manager, you want Tielemans with the ball at his feet.


TielemansYouri Tielemans has been linked to many Premier League clubs in the past.
(Photo: Evening Standard)

Tielemans has often been criticized for his defensive capabilities. While he was brought up as a holding midfielder, the prodigy has morphed his game into something else. Nowadays, Tielemans is not a great tackler. Many times, he will pull out of a challenge or avoid the challenge altogether. Additionally, the youngster needs to improve on his defensive work rate if a move to a bigger club pushes through. Playing for Anderlecht in the Belgian Pro League does not require the young star to do much defending at all, but if he were donning the jersey of a top European club, more would certainly be demanded of him on defense.

Also, Tielemans is not great in the air. At 5′ 9″, the midfielder does not tower over anyone. His strength is what you would expect of a growing teenager and will surely improve with maturity. Right now though, you won’t be seeing Tielemans winning headers in the midfield or dominating physical battles.

Youri Tielemans has all the tools to be a dominant box to box midfielder. His flashy long distance goals are every fan’s dream and his passing ability has the potential to do damage to his opposition in the final third. Due to the interest that he has been attracting recently, it is unlikely that the young prodigy stays at Anderlecht this summer. Teams such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have long been admirers of Youri Tielemans. He will have a plethora of options in the near future and us here at EiF are sure that he will excel at any club he chooses.

Previous: No. 14, Bayern’s young star, Joshua Kimmich
No. 12, PSG’s defensive gem, Presnel Kimpembe