Arsenal must be wary of asking too much of Youri Tielemans in his debut season at the Emirates if they can reach a deal to sign the Leicester midfielder this summer. The Belgium international is one of Mikel Arteta’s priority targets in the current transfer window, which officially opened on Friday.
The Gunners’ failure to qualify for the Champions League was thought to be a stumbling block in their pursuit of Tielemans. However, according to The Athletic, the 25-year-old no longer considers his next club’s participation in the competition to be a requirement.
With only one year left on his contract at Leicester, Arsenal is said to be confident in signing Tielemans. To avoid losing the player on a free transfer in a year’s time, the Foxes are expected to approve a sale this summer.
However, the box-to-box midfielder, for whom Leicester may demand at least £30 million, is coming off a hectic season. On Saturday night, he made his Nations League debut against Wales in Cardiff, where he scored Belgium’s goal in a 1-1 draw in his 58th appearance of the season for club and country.
Only Martin Odegaard (52 appearances) and Bukayo Saka (51 appearances) come close in the Arsenal squad. In 2020-21, Tielemans made a total of 66 appearances, including the Euros. He started Leicester’s first match of the season on August 14 after finishing his previous season with Belgium on July 2.
Tielemans also played 49 times in 2019-20. Arteta must be careful not to overload his new player, given his workload in recent years, with the former Anderlecht ace likely to be the go-to starter alongside Thomas Partey if he is brought to Arsenal.
The Spanish coach will no doubt want as much time as possible with Tielemans during pre-season, but if he is signed, Arsenal will need to make sure he gets enough rest before joining his new teammates in training. If he signs before August 6, the Gunners will need him to be as fresh as possible on opening day.
Arsenal may only have Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, and Mohamed Elneny as senior midfield options before Tielemans next season, with Granit Xhaka linked to Bayer Leverkusen and Roma. It would be a huge blow to lose the Belgian for an extended period of time due to his being overloaded.
Given Arsenal’s desire to sign a striker and a left-back this summer, it appears unlikely that another midfielder will be added to Tielemans. Especially since the north Londoners rarely play with more than two in the middle.
That means Arteta’s job this season will be to keep Tielemans from getting tired if Arsenal are to achieve their goal of qualifying for the Champions League.