THERE will be more on offer than a place in the semi-finals of the Europa League when Manchester United head to Anderlecht on Thursday evening.
The Red Devils make the short hop to Belgium to face Anderlecht in the first leg of the tie on Thursday night and are hot favourites to progress.
However, Jose Mourinho will have his eye on 19-year-old Youri Tielemans in the hosts’ midfield.
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Our friends at Football Whispers look at what makes Tielemans so special and where the youngster would fit into United’s midfield.
The teenager has been tipped for greatness from an early age and became the youngest Belgian to play in the Champions League when he made his debut aged just 16 and 148 days.
Tielemans has established himself as a key cog in Anderlecht’s midfield since making his debut against Lokeren in 2013 – becoming the fourth-youngest player in Belgian ProLeague history.
He has played more than 100 times since, scoring at a rate of roughly one in four, more than enough for Europe’s top clubs to confirm he is a player of real quality.
Ligue 1 leaders Monaco reportedly lead the way, and he is understood to be an Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool transfer target.
Born in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw to a Congolese mother and Belgian father, Tielemans combined playing for Anderlecht’s youth sides with his education.
He completed his studies at 18 – two years after signing his first pro deal with the Paars-wit.
The then-coach John van den Brom saw the talent in the teenager at an early age and handed him his first taste of professional football when he was included in the match-day squad for a 1-0 win over Genk in the Belgian Super Cup in July 2013.
Clearly convinced Tielemans had the requisite ability to make an impression on the first team, Van den Brom handed his prodigy a full debut in the first week of the 2013-14 campaign as a 25th-minute substitute in a 3-2 loss to Lokeren.
The Man United transfer target followed that up by making his Champions League debut against Olympiakos in October 2013.
Anderlecht won the Belgian title and he was named Belgian Young Player of the Year.
It could not have been a much better maiden campaign for Tielemans, making 35 appearances in all competitions and scoring once.
He has gone from strength-to-strength since and it is easy to forget he is still a teenager until the first week of May.
Capable of playing in front of the back four or as a No10, Tielemans’ best position is a playmaker in an orthodox central midfield role.
With a good range of passing and creativity, Tielemans would bring greater creativity and attacking threat to Manchester United’s midfield.
United have lacked a truly creative central midfielder since Paul Scholes retired for the second time in 2013.
Many have tried to fill the void left by the diminutive ginger genius but few have even got close.
World record signing Paul Pogba rejoined from Juventus with the hope of adding more dynamism, drive and creativity to United’s midfield.
After a slow start the Frenchman is beginning to show why the Reds parted with £89.3million to bring him back to Old Trafford.
But Tielemans would plug a gap which has, in recent years, left Michael Carrick as the creator-in-chief from a deep-lying midfield position.
Although Tielemans plays further forward there has been an onus on Carrick to create.
Tielemans has added goals to his game this season, hitting 13 from 28 league starts – one more than he has managed in each of the last three seasons combined.
He scores all kinds of goals but, like Scholes, specialises in screamers.
He has a knack for collecting possession and letting fly from distance – using both feet – and takes penalties for Anderlecht too.
His importance to the side has been recognised by coach by coach Rene Weiler who has made him captain at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium despite his youth.
United will face stiff competition to sign one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe.
One thing the Red Devils cannot offer Tielemans with any certainty is Champions League football.
Four points shy of the Premier League’s top four, their best hope for Champions League football might be winning the Europa League.
To do that they will need to progress past Anderlecht and hope Tielemans has an off day too.