By Jonty Banks

11th Jun, 2023 | 12:36pm

Youri Tielemans creativity can help light up European stage for Aston Villa next season

Aston Villa mean business this summer, with the acquisition of Youri Tielemans a brilliant first piece of the puzzle for Unai Emery’s Europe-bound side.

The club confirmed (10 June) that the Belgian international would officially become a Villa player on a free transfer on 1 July after his contract at Leicester City expired, signing on a four-year deal.

A regular for his country on the international stage, amassing 58 caps since his debut in 2016, Tielemans has long been considered one of the most exciting midfielders in the Premier League.

The 26-year-old has regularly shone on the biggest stage, netting a sublime match-winner for the Foxes when they won the FA Cup in 2021, and amassing 195 appearances during his four years at the club.

Although Tielemans only managed to record five goal contributions from 31 Premier League outings last season, this was his worst tally since joining the club in 2019, and it came in a Leicester City side that was eventually relegated to the Championship.

Moving forward in a claret and blue shirt, the midfielder looks a perfect option to add some extra creativity and dynamism to Villa’s midfield in the final third.

With Emery also needing further options in the middle of the park, especially considering their Europa Conference League commitments, the former Monaco player could help light up the European stage in a similar vein to Lucas Paqueta at West Ham last term.

According to the Opta-powered stats on FBREF, Tielemans sat in the 86th percentile for progressive passes made by midfielders last season, averaging 6.95 per 90 minutes.

This equated to a total of 181 progressive passes across the season, which was 33 more than Douglas Luiz, who topped the charts for Villa.

At times towards the end of last season, Villa failed to get service into Ollie Watkins on a regular basis, however, the addition of Tielemans should partly solve this issue, with the free agent completing the eighth most passes into the final third of all the midfielders in the English top flight.

He also averaged an expected assists total of 0.18 per 90 minutes, which is almost double McGinn’s (0.09), higher than Luiz’s (0.14), Kamara’s (0.04), and just edging out academy graduate Jacob Ramsey’s (0.17).

On a free transfer, this looks like a brilliant piece of transfer business from Aston Villa to continue on from their smart acquisitions of Alex Moreno and Kamara in the last two windows.

Tielemans adds an extra element of quality, depth and experience to Villa’s paper-thin first-team squad.

In other Aston Villa news, the club would not be in Europe next season without one player who sits top of one key statistics area.