Youri Tielemans to Aston Villa transfer: Unai Emery plan explained and Leicester City myth debunked

Unai Emery was frustrated in his attempts to sign a midfielder in January and is keen to recruit Tielemans this month, while the Villa head coach will remain in the market to add more depth in that department in the coming weeks. Belgium international Tielemans was courted by a number of clubs last summer, but remained at Leicester to see out the remaining months of his contract.

Speaking of his future at Leicester last season, the midfielder said: “I’m not going to speak too much about my contract situation at the moment I didn’t leave Leicester in the summer as I always said the project had to be the right one. Just because things are getting worse now at Leicester doesn’t mean I should regret [staying].”

Leicester were relegated on the final day of the season despite interim boss Dean Smith picking up nine points from eight matches. The former Villa head coach came within a goal of keeping the Foxes in the top-flight, but Everton held on to their lead against Bournemouth to condemn City to relegation back to the Championship just two years after winning the FA Cup.

Tielemans’ winning goal against Chelsea at Wembley went down in the club’s history, but his chapter at the club is now over. Villa have competition to secure Tielemans’ signature and he is set to make a decision on his future shortly ahead of the start of pre-season.

The 26-year-old made 195 appearances for Leicester during his four years at the club, and started 27 Premier League matches last season, including their 4-2 away win at Villa. He was then ruled out of their home defeat to Emery’s side due to an ankle injury.

Tielemans recorded five goal contributions in 31 total league appearances last term, which was his lowest return since joining the club in 2019. He had registered at least nine goal contributions in his previous three full Premier League campaigns.

Villa boss Emery knows there’s a top player in Tielemans; a midfielder who was at the peak of his powers 18 months ago. Come the end of the 2020/21 campaign, Tielemans was of interest to a host of Europe’s elite clubs, but a move away from the King Power never materialised.

The Leicester star ended the 2020/21 season having completed the third most progressive passes in the division and the 10th most through balls in Europe’s top five leagues. He also recorded the seventh most touches and ninth most goal-creating actions of all players in the Premier League.

Tielemans contested the sixth most tackles and won the 10th most tackles in the league that season as Leicester finished in fifth-place for the second year in a row. In 2021/22, the Foxes finished in eighth – four points behind West Ham who qualified for the Europa Conference League – with Tielemans once again proving crucial to their best moments of the campaign.

After opting to remain at the club last summer, he struggled in an under-performing Leicester side who were relegated on the final day of the season. Despite not living up to his own high standards, Tielemans still performed well against fellow Premier League midfielders.

Of all midfielders in the English top-flight, he completed the eighth most passes into the final third and 181 progressive passes, which is 33 more than Douglas Luiz, who led the way for Villa. His xA (expected assists) value was 3.3, which is the same as John McGinn’s, while he made exactly the same number of tackles as the Scot (66), but won a greater share of his ground duels.

Only Arsenal’s Thomas Partey recorded a better successful take-on rate than Tielemans last season, with the Belgium international completing 74 per cent of his take-ons. McGinn completed 64 per cent of his last term, while only Thiago has recorded a lower tackled during take-ons percentage than Tielemans of all midfielders.


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