As the summer transfer window approaches steadily on the horizon, it’s only natural that we as Manchester City fans start to ponder what business the club might conduct.
Truth be told, Pep Guardiola’s squad does not exactly need much work doing to it. The obvious position to strengthen is up-front and City are doing everything they can to convince Erling Haaland to join from Borussia Dortmund.
Striker aside, the other area of interest is holding midfielder. In Rodri, City have a number six for the long haul, but club captain Fernandinho will not be around for much longer.
The latest reports suggest that City may offer the 36-year-old a new one-year contract, but surely that would be that. Come the summer of 2023, the Blues would surely need to find a replacement.
That replacement could be someone who is already playing in the Premier League, has European experience in the Europa League and has won major honors.
Youri Tielemans has seriously impressed since joining Leicester City in 2019 but, unless things change, he will be available for free come July 2023.
Since joining the Foxes he has made 142 appearances, during which time he scored 24 goals and assisted 22 more. The highlight of his time in Leicester has probably already occurred – one of the all-time great FA Cup final goals to see of Chelsea in last season’s showpiece.
The Belgiun international is a versatile central midfielder, capable as playing in a holding role, a box-to-box role or even in a more attacking number eight position.
While he seldom plays as a holding midfielder in the center of a midfield three, there is no reason why Guardiola could not work his magic and mold him into that role.
With the ball at his feet Tielemans is an accomplished passer, his 6.06 progressive passes per 90 minute placing him in the 90th percentile of his positional peers over the past year according to FBref.
The accuracy of his passing could do with some work though: at 79.2% it falls short of Guardiola’s high standards, but the way Leicester play – often on the break with little control – may contribute to that figure.
Tielemans is not bad defensively either: this season he has made more blocks (1.53 per 90) and blocked more passes (1.23 per 90) than both Rodri and Fernandinho, while his successful pressure percentage of 36% is also pretty impressive.
He is not an out-and-out defensive midfielder though, but he could play as the holding player in a similar fashion to Ilkay Gundogan did at times during 2018/19.
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Stats aside, he is by all accounts a keen learner and a coaches’ dream.
“He is a joy to work with and however long that is, if it is until the end of his contract or beyond that, he will give everything to the club,” Brendan Rodgers recently said of the 24-year-old.
“I have always said before I have no doubt with Youri, with his commitment and focus. He is a wonderful guy. And he will continue to be until whenever that is.”
With that last line, Rodgers certainly did not seem confident that Tielemans will sign a new deal. If he decides to leave, then City could do a lot worse than signing him up for free in 2023 or sticking in a cut-price offer this summer ..
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