CARDIFF, WALES - Saturday, June 11, 2022: Belgium's Youri Tielemans celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Nations League Group A4 game between Wales and Belgium at the Cardiff City Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Why Youri Tielemans is the odd one out in Liverpool’s transfer ‘targets’

Liverpool are linked with countless midfielders ahead of the summer transfer window, but one which makes little sense is Youri Tielemans.

As at least four head for the exit, the Reds are expected to bring in at least two and more likely three midfielders this summer.

Alexis Mac Allister has emerged as a primary target following the breakdown of a move for Jude Bellingham, while Mason Mount and Ryan Gravenberch are also heavily linked.

But reliable reports have touted Liverpool with moves for a number of others, as the scale of their midfield rebuild requires multiple targets.

Moises Caicedo, Manuel Ugarte, Joao Palhinha, Matheus Nunes and Conor Gallagher all make sense in one way or another, with the club seeking various profiles of midfielder.

However, Tielemans is the odd one out.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 1, 2019: Leicester City's Youri Tielemans during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Everton FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Upon the U-turn on Bellingham, the Times‘ Paul Joyce was among those to list Tielemans as a potential target, while The Athletic included the Belgian in their deep dive on alternatives to Dortmund’s No. 22.

It is a trend now to see his name among the likes of Mac Allister, Mount, Nunes and Gallagher as a possible new arrival at Anfield.

Of course, Liverpool have historic interest in the Leicester midfielder, dating at least as far back as 2017, following his breakthrough at Anderlecht.

Prior to his switch to AS Monaco, L’Equipe claimed Liverpool were also pursuing the then-19-year-old along with Everton and Chelsea, with a £21 million price tag set.

Tielemans ultimately left for Monaco and, 18 months later, eventually made it to the Premier League with Leicester – initially on loan.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 3, 2021: Leicester City's Youri Tielemans during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Leicester City FC at Turf Moor. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Since then, Tielemans has made 192 appearances for Leicester, but with his contract up this summer he is set to depart a club seemingly bound for relegation to the Championship.

Those 192 games contribute to a career tally of 500 senior appearances for club and country, with the midfielder only just having turned 26.

He has been on the pitch for a combined 38,144 minutes – the equivalent of 423 full games or 76.3 minutes in each of his 500 outings.

That, it can be argued, has been influential in the main reason why he sticks out as an ill fit for Liverpool: he lacks the speed, engine and work rate required in Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield.

Prior to the current campaign, data analyst @exceedingxpuns shared a graphic on Twitter that showed Tielemans had played the equivalent minutes at senior club level as the average 33-year-old professional.

At the time, he had clocked around 30,000 minutes for Anderlecht, Monaco and Leicester, which was considerably more than any other player his age across Europe’s top five leagues.

Liverpool may be pursuing players of his profile in terms of age and Premier League experience this summer, but Tielemans is unlikely to be a genuine target.

More likely is that he has been lazily and continually linked with a move to Anfield as he is: a) a midfielder, b) available on a free and c) a ‘big’ name.