Youri Tielemans to be rewarded with new Leicester deal after FA Cup final heroics

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Brendan Rodgers and Youri Tielemans - AFP
Brendan Rodgers and Youri Tielemans - AFP

Youri Tielemans is close to signing a new contract with Leicester City in another huge boost for the FA Cup winners.

Tielemans has been in talks over a long-term deal for weeks and an agreement is near to completion for the perfectionist who embodies the rebuild under Brendan Rodgers. The brilliant winning goal on Saturday represented another crucial contribution from Leicester’s “coach on the pitch”, who has seen pretty much everything the game has to offer since making his debut at 16 years old with Anderlecht.

The Belgium international is never going to be photographed falling out of nightclubs; he is a deep thinker who reviews all of his matches with his agent and was swiftly promoted to Leicester’s "leadership group" after his £32 million move from Monaco.

He is already studying for his coaching badges and is regarded by Leicester team-mates as the benchmark for professionalism.

Despite his vast experience he only turned 24 this month, and his importance to Rodgers is underlined by the fact that he has played in 49 of Leicester’s 51 matches this season.

After scoring his brilliant winner against Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final, there was a telling moment when he pointed to the Leicester badge as he ran to celebrate in front of the supporters.

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Both parties are optimistic about resolving his contract situation soon. Rodgers views Tielemans as an integral part of his revolution, a ruthlessly efficient modern-day midfielder who brings out the best in his team-mates.

Persuading him to join on a permanent deal in July 2019, amid competition from perceived "bigger" clubs, will go down as one of the pivotal moments in Rodgers’ tenure.

Crucially, Tielemans will now be further convinced that he can realise his ambitions with Leicester.

The club face Chelsea again on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge and another victory over Thomas Tuchel would all but secure Champions League qualification.

Tielemans was the youngest Belgian to play in the Champions League at the age of 16 years 148 days when he faced Olympiacos with Anderlecht, and deserves a return to that stage.

Saturday’s FA Cup final triumph, the first in Leicester’s history, also ensures that a pre-season target was achieved.

Earlier this season, in an interview with Telegraph Sport, Tielemans said: “Last season we nearly reached all our goals - it was just the cup finals that were missing.

“This season it’s basically the same, to try and reach the FA Cup final and finish as high as possible in the Premier League. We want to match last season and that’s how we will progress as a team.”

Progression is always the mantra around Leicester, and Tielemans sees evidence of that every day he drives into their gleaming new £100 million training ground.

Under the shrewd ownership of King Power, and chairman Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester will not stop here and plans for next season are fully under way.

Talks are advanced over a deal for Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumaré, while there is an expectation that Odsonne Edouard will also join from Celtic.

Champions League qualification will boost their financial power with a guaranteed £40 million and that money will be used wisely to continue their upward momentum.

At the heart of it, on the field, will be Tielemans, the classy operator with the mind of a manager.

While Leicester are mapping out their strategy for the future, long-serving defender Wes Morgan appears to be nearing the end. The 37-year-old, who was captain when Leicester lifted the title in 2016, is out of contract in June and made a surprise late appearance in Saturday’s showpiece. Morgan had not played since December, but was introduced for the final eight minutes in what is likely to be a farewell.

He said: “Nothing’s been announced yet, I need to discuss it with the club, but I don’t think I’ve got too many more miles on the clock, we’ll say that. “I wasn’t sure on Thursday if I was going to make the squad. We were 1-0 up and the last thing I expected a week ago was to be playing again, but I came on and now I’ve won an FA Cup.

“This shows our intentions. We’ve got a real direction now since the gaffer took over. We have an identity.”