Leicester City may have to manage Youri Tielemans’ return after the club’s star midfielder admitted his struggles on international duty.
Tielemans is currently representing Belgium at the European Championships and while the number-one-ranked nation have breezed into knockout stages, the midfielder has been frustrated with his own performances, even describing the first half-hour of the opening fixture as his worst display of the season.
The 24-year-old has high expectations of himself, and analyses every game he plays in full with his advisor.
In his assessment of his first two games, Tielemans said: “I gave my all but didn’t show all of my qualities. I wasn’t at my best on a technical level. This is a point I really want to work on, to improve and be better in the next matches.
“My first thirty minutes were difficult and not what I expected. It was perhaps my worst minutes of the season.
“I have high expectations and I am very demanding of myself. I know those first two games weren’t at my level, it’s quite frustrating because I always want to do well and help the team.
“I have to get over it, give my best in the next match, and keep working to make it pay off.”
However, his under-par displays may be a theme of the Euros after an exhausting 12 months for many of the players.
With City playing out of the conclusion of the previous season during June and July last year, and with a full campaign then squashed between September and May, Tielemans arrived at the Euros having played 72 matches in 12 months for club and country.
Ranked by minutes played, he has the sixth-highest tally of outfield players selected at the Euros, and those above him have had similar issues. Bruno Fernandes, at the top of the list, has under-performed for Portugal, and was dropped for their final group game, while Ruben Dias has been unable to take his Manchester City form into the Euros, looking slow.
Of the other players above Tielemans, Harry Maguire has had recent injury issues, France’s Jules Kounde was described as “sluggish” by L’Equipe for his display against Portugal, while Andy Robertson failed to lead Scotland out of the group.
It has been suggested that Harry Kane, also high on the list, may be feeling the effects of a hectic 12 months too amid his struggles in front of goal.
Tielemans may not believe that tiredness is an issue as he agrees with Brendan Rodgers’ assessment that he is “better in rhythm”, and is more capable of sustaining his form when not rested.