“A Sumptuous Scythe,
of Dexterous Pleasure,
to Deduce the Length
No Eye Could Measure.
to Within a Hair,
He Hit The Pass,
That Wasn’t There.”
– Dan Leydon.
Those who have seen Salford’s finest play football live has lived a truly blessed life. Such was his proficiency in his art, that he was able to drop the ball on a penny’s length. His rapier-like passes, didn’t, however, do justice to the full repertoire of his talents. As much he had a happy knack for the Hollywood passes, he was one of those footballers, who does the bulk of the work when the camera is not on him. His incessant striving to position himself in the most ideal of spots, forever searching, investigating spaces between the spaces to set himself to always be there to receive the ball, thereby relieving pressure off of his teammates was one of his most understated qualities, unlike the assortment of the pomp and show players Manchester United are eternally remembered for.
The day may be not too far, that the Old Trafford Faithful may rub their eyes to see a player in the same ilk as their beloved Scholesy, spraying passes across the greenery, with all the ready frequency of an automated garden sprinkler. The wily Jose Mourinho has gotten on his phone and called up on of the most prized young midfielders in world football to join his project – the playmaker, 19-year-old prodigy, Youri Teilemans; who could be changing his Sint-Pieters-Leeuw address for Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester M16 0RA, United Kingdom.
JD, a mutual admirer, takes on the privileged task of painting a picture of a footballer, whose game is as pretty as a picture.
To say young Tielemans’ rise was meteoric would be an understatement. Thrown in at the deep end, aged 16, for his debut, a Champions League debut at that, the boy Youri didn’t only float, but he swam with all the urgency of Michael Phelps on munchies racing towards a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.
His ball retention and intelligence for his age border on the superlative. His technique is coupled with his versatility of being able to play a wide variety of midfield roles, from the fleet-footed attacking midfielder, the midfield metronome, or the expedient defensive midfielder. Such is his multi-functional quality on the ball, he’s been deployed mostly in a box-to-box role by Anderlecht – thereby not only being the focal point of transition from defence to attack but also squeeze out space in an event of his team being hit on the counter.
Ambidextrous, nerveless, and filled to the brim with initiative, his closest contemporary comparison is Luka Modric in terms of style. And, oh, the boy can hit a long pass.
Goal-shy, the boy Youri needs to back his ability when he finds himself in advanced positions. While he does have the spatial awareness to fundamentally funnel opposition attacks, much like Scholes, he’s not much of a tackler.
Under the stewardship of shrewd Jose, Tielemans could turn out to be the complete package, when he learns of the technical and tactical nuances needed to better his defensive game, and as a natural athlete, fully realise his physical limits.
While the boy Youri has shown steely resilience in his time at Belgium, a move to Old Trafford is a completely different ballpark. Jose would have to use him sparsely at first, and there is a risk that the young maestro may take the better part of half-a-season to fully grasp the demands of the league. He’s, however, a talent that’s definitely worth the giddy wait.