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Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans admits he gave up hope of joining Arsenal as he was worried about game time.
Tielemans has been one of Europe’s most exciting prospects since bursting onto the scene for Anderlecht in 2013, making his first-team debut at the age of 16.
The Belgium international scored 35 goals and provided 31 assists in his 185 appearances for Anderlecht, winning two Belgian Pro titles and two Belgian Sup Cups in the process.
He joined Ligue 1 champions Monaco in the summer for a reported £20million, but a move to the Premier League was also on the cards.
Arsenal were keeping tabs in the 20-year-old, but Tielemans felt he’d gain more game time at Monaco due to Gunners’ quality in midfield.
Tielemans explained: “I knew not much was going to change with Arsenal’s squad.
“Their management wanted to keep the same group of players together in order to finish high in the Premier League.
“I had to be honest with myself and take a look at the midfielders Arsenal have got. They are top-class players.
“I knew that I would not get many first-team chances with them, so I didn’t give any more thought to joining them.
“I never said no to any club. But I made it clear where I wanted to go.”
Monaco signed Tielemans as they prepared for life without Tiemoue Bakayoko, who left for Chelsea in a £40m deal.
But he’s started just one of his five Ligue 1 outings so far.