Youri Tielemans: Stars aligning for Man Utd to finally sign long-term target from Aston Villa

Robin Bairner
Youri Tielemans, Aston Villa, Man Utd, 2023/24

With the news that Manchester United are ready to allow Christian Eriksen to leave in the summer, it opens the door for the Old Trafford club to rekindle interest in a former transfer target to act as a replacement for the Dane.

Eriksen arrived at Man Utd following a successful spell at Brentford as he all-too-literally came back from the dead after collapsing during Denmark’s opening match of Euro 2020.

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The 32-year-old was admired for his ability to act as a deep-lying playmaker, having dropped into this more withdrawn role during a spell in Serie A with Inter Milan. He has struggled physically this season and will be moved on in the summer.

In the search for a like-for-like replacement, Man Utd have the perfect opportunity to capture a player they have long coveted.

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Perfect Eriksen replacement

Youri Tielemans is recommended by SciSports as the ideal player to step into Eriksen’s shoes, with the Belgium international having delivered an eye-catching midweek performance against England in a 2-2 draw at Wembley. The 26-year-old scored twice on that occasion.

Tielemans comes out as the best available player in the SciSports database when searching for an Eriksen clone:

  • Main position: Central midfield
  • Similar to: Christian Eriksen
  • Minimal similarity: 80%
  • Performance in any season within the last 3 years
  • Crossing: Top third
  • Passing: Top third

When searching the above criteria, Tielmans comes out on top ahead of the likes of Marcel Sabitzer, who spent the second half of last term at Old Trafford on loan, and his Bayern Munich teammate Leon Goretzka, as well as Juventus’ Weston McKennie, who has been linked to United in the past, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, a player perennially linked to the Red Devils.

Crucially, with a SciSkill of 109.9, Tielemans represents a sizeable upgrade on Eriksen, whose level as dropped to 91.5.

For the Old Trafford club, meanwhile, Tielemans offers not only a capacity to act as a deep playmaker but to play as an orthodox No.10 when Bruno Fernandes is unavailable. He showed his capacity in that role with his two Belgium goals against England.

READ MORE: The 10 best Premier League stars out of contract in the summer

Tielemans admits situation ‘not pleasant’

Although the former Anderlecht and Monaco midfielder only moved to Aston Villa from Leicester at the start of the season, there is an opening to complete a move.

Tielemans has not earned the game time that he would have wished under Unai Emery, and though he has typically started games when fit since December, he is not at the stage of being indispensable for the Birmingham club. Indeed, he is only playing due to a long-term injury to Boubacar Kamara.

“The situation is not pleasant. I told the manager that I came to Villa to play. He understands me, but at the moment, he prefers to play with the two midfielders from last season,” Tielemans complained earlier this season.

If dangled the carrot of being a regular at Man Utd, the prospect of being Eriksen’s replacement could appeal.

Tielemans has an Estimated Transfer Value of €35.6m, and if offered such a fee, Villa may be tempted into a sale given that he was signed on a free transfer last summer and has not imposed himself in the desired fashion.

This is a deal that could suit all parties.

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