Youri Tielemans has been tipped to sign a new contract at Leicester City by Andy King after writing his name in the club’s folklore with his stunning FA Cup final winner.
The Belgium international scored the only goal of Saturday’s showdown with Chelsea in front of 21,000 supporters with a right-foot drive into the top-left corner from 25 yards.
Leicester survived a nervy finale to win their first ever FA Cup at the fifth attempt, making it one of the most famous days in the Foxes’ history.
Match-winner Tielemans – the third Belgian to score in the showpiece after Eden Hazard in 2018 and Kevin de Bruyne a year later – was rightly acclaimed after the match.
The 24-year-old has impressed throughout the season for Leicester, who will now switch focus to trying to nail down a top-four finish and Champions League football when they face Chelsea again on Tuesday.
Despite rumoured interest from other Premier League heavyweights, former Leicester midfielder King believes Tielemans can achieve all his career aims by staying on at the King Power Stadium.
“It’s important Leicester keep him. Only he will be able to tell you whether it’s going to be difficult to keep him because you never know what certain players’ ambitions are, but days like Saturday certainly help,” King told Stats Perform.
“He knows he can win trophies at Leicester and he knows he can play in the Champions League – that’s what all the top players want.
“So, you never know, especially with players who aren’t from the UK, if they want to play in another country or try something new.
“But from what I’ve heard, read and seen, he is really, really happy here, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign some sort of new contract in the not-too-distant future. I’m not saying I know he’s doing it, but it just seems the right fit.
“He’s probably been Leicester’s Player of the Season this year – he has been absolutely outstanding. He’s got everything, and for someone so young to score the match-winning goal in an FA Cup final is amazing.”
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 15, 2021
That stunning Wembley strike took Tielemans’ goal tally for the season to nine in all competitions – six of those in the Premier League – and he has also chipped in with four assists.
The former Monaco midfielder, who has two years to run on his existing deal, is third behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (2,615) and Rodri (2,683) for passes attempted among Premier League midfielders this term with 2,355.
He also ranks ninth in the division for tackles by midfielders (74), joint-10th for tackles won (39) and joint-11th in terms of chances created (44), underlining his all-round ability in the middle of the park.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has been credited with getting the most out of Tielemans, who arrived for a reported club-record fee of £40million in July 2019, and King feels the former Liverpool boss can also play a part in keeping the player at the club.
“He really likes the manager,” said King, who won the League One, Championship and Premier League titles during his time with the Foxes. “The manager really likes him as well and he’s now playing the best football of his career.
“He’s just won a trophy and [can still get] into the Champions League, so I don’t think he will be in any sort of rush to get out of the situation he’s in at the moment.
“The way Leicester are going now, with one of the best training grounds in Europe, plans to extend the stadium, he’s going to enjoy all that.
“He’s young and has plenty of years ahead of him, so hopefully he can sign that new contract and carry on playing the way he is.”
— Leicester City(@LCFC) May 17, 2021
While Tielemans’ strike will long live in the memory of Leicester supporters, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel also cemented his status as one of the Foxes’ all-time greats with some big saves against Chelsea.
Schmeichel turned Ben Chilwell’s header on to the post and then somehow kept out Mason Mount’s powerful shot en route to becoming the first goalkeeper to captain the winning side in an FA Cup final since David Seaman with Arsenal in 2003.
“Kasper is someone who is made for big moments,” King said of his former team-mate. “He is driven to improve himself every day and improve those around him to make sure standards don’t slip.
“He’s vocal in the dressing room, and the best thing for us is that he really does love and care for the club. He cares about the owner and the supporters and will do anything to make sure Leicester win a game.
“He thrives off the big occasion and that save off Mason Mount is world class, an unbelievable save.
“I was sat right behind the shot, and just the sheer power on it, you think he might get a hand to it, but he’s not going to be able to keep it out. He’s a world-class goalkeeper.”