Youri Tielemans passes early Aston Villa test as full debut awaits
Aston Villa went a long way to showing last week that they are more than capable of balancing European football with their domestic commitments.
The Villans saw off Burnley 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday [27 August], four days on from thumping Hibernian 5-0 in the first leg of their Europa Conference League qualifying play-off.
Emery brought in Matty Cash as the only unenforced change at Turf Moor and was rewarded with two goals from the full-back, who was pushed into a more advanced midfield position.
The quick turnaround in fixtures will be a regular theme this season now that Villa are effectively assured of a place in the Europa Conference League, and the Thursday-Sunday slog will push Unai Emery’s squad to their limits.
Emery will have to make full use of each player he has available to him if he is to ensure his side can remain competitive on multiple fronts throughout a season that offers so much promise.
One of those who will hope to play a far bigger part than he has so far is midfielder Youri Tielemans, who has been used as a substitute in all four Villa games since joining earlier in the summer.
The former Leicester City midfielder has been on the field for just 98 minutes this season [Soccerway], yet he has already showed glimpses of exactly why Villa pulled off a coup by seeing off competition from elsewhere for his signature.
Tielemans’ 27 minutes in the 4-0 win over Everton are the most he has managed in a single game so far for his new club.
In that match, he completed 96.7% of his 30 passes – only Ollie Watkins had a better pass-accuracy percentage as he completed all nine of his [WhoScored].
Indeed, Tielemans has completed 51 out of 55 attempted passes in the Premier League this season (92.7%), which is the best return of any Villa player to have played more than 30 minutes [FBref].
Those are not necessarily what you would define as “safe” passes, either.
Tielemans has averaged 7.78 progressive passes per 90 – passes that move the ball at least 10 yards towards the opposition goal – which is again the best return of any player to have played more than 30 minutes.
As he showed during his time at neighbours Leicester, Tielemans also has an eye for goals and assists – all of which Villa fans still have to look forward to.
Emery is easing the Belgium international and his other summer signings into the side, but Tielemans could well make his full debut in the dead-rubber with Hibernian on Thursday [31 August].
The early signs are promising, and now the 26-year-old will be eager to nail down a regular starting spot in the heart of Emery’s midfield.
In other Aston Villa news, one player was given a 4/10 rating for his performance in the win at Turf Moor.