This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.
Newcastle United were linked with Belgium’s youngest ever player to feature in the Champions League Youri Tielemans before he joined Leicester City on loan in January, and the Magpies have been worse off ever since, having opted for Miguel Almiron instead.
The Magpies were linked with Tielemans by Belgian outlet HLN back in January, as Monaco were actively trying to part company with the then-21-year-old, after a troublesome Ligue 1 season led to the sacking of Thierry Henry and the return of Leonardo Jardim to the Principality.
It was suggested that Newcastle had opened a line of communication with Les Monegasques to try and scupper the Foxes’ advances, and those being made by Tottenham Hotspur, as Jardim was known to have not been a fan of the midfielder from during his first spell at Monaco, whereas Henry was exceptionally close to him (Get French Football News).
Leicester ultimately won the race for Tielemans on Deadline Day (BBC), while Newcastle had announced their then-club-record capture of Almiron from MLS franchise Atlanta United at a cost of £21million (Guardian), but it was the Foxes who enjoyed the better end of their respective deals.
While Almiron featured in ten Premier League games but failed to score or assist a goal under Rafa Benitez before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury in April (TransferMarkt), Tielemans was hitting the headlines at the King Power Stadium.
After settling into his new surroundings with outings in defeats to Tottenham and Crystal Palace, Tielemans carved out his first assist against Brighton & Hove Albion, and began a run of six games were he had a hand in at least one goal (TransferMarkt).
The 26-cap time international later added an assist against West Ham United and a strike against Arsenal to his account, to end the term with three goals and five assists in 13 games.
His efforts led to another race for his signature in the summer with Arsenal and Manchester United often linked (Mirror), but Leicester came out on top when they agreed a £40m deal for the 22-year-old (The Sun).
The current season is yet to see Tielemans prove as influential as he was during Leicester’s transitional period under Brendan Rodgers following the ex-Liverpool boss’ arrival at the King Power Stadium, but the Belgian remains a far more creative option than Almiron.
Sint- Pieters-Leeuw-born Tielemans has scored once and assisted one goal this term, compared to Almiron’s blanks in both accounts.
Both have featured in each of the eight Premier League games played heading into this weekend’s fixtures, but Almiron has only mustered an average 0.4 key balls per ninety minutes, whereas Tielemans has carved out 1.4, per WhoScored data.
Tielemans is also attempting more shots on goal to try and have a direct impact on proceedings, with an average 2.3 – 1.8 of which have come from outside the box – to Almiron’s 1.5 – 1.1 of which have come from inside the area.
When in possession, Almiron has often looked to play the ball short, as well, with just 0.1 accurate long passes from 0.8 attempts on average in the Premier League thus far, compared to Tielemans’ 2.9 from 4.7 amid a total 57.9 passes to the Toon man’s 21.6.
The two midfielders may occupy differing roles in their respective manager’s plans, with Almiron more often used out wide by Steve Bruce while Tielemans has featured exclusively in the centre, but the creativity offered shows Leicester added the talent Newcastle needed when targeting improvements back in January.
Newcastle fans, did the Magpies make an error in signing Almiron over Tielemans? Let us know in the comments below…
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