Scandinavia has long been a hotbed of footballing talent. Denmark, in particular, has given us players of genuine talent in recent years. Although the golden generation of the Laudrup brothers and Peter Schmeichel is consigned to the past we have still seen a steady stream of top class players moving to top-5 leagues in recent seasons.
The next player off this conveyor belt of talent may well be the 20-year-old attacking player Jesper Lindstrom of Brondby. The young attacker has been enjoying a breakout season this year. At the time of writing Lindstrom has played 1310 minutes and is averaging 0.55 goals per 90 and 0.14 assists per 90 for his side. These surface metrics are impressive but they are also backed up by good underlying numbers as Lindstrom is attempting 5.98 dribbles per 90 and 2.34 shots per 90 while having 2.61 touches in the opposition area and playing 3.23 passes into the opposition area. Now, we are starting to build a picture of the kind of player that Lindstrom is. He is a dynamic force in the final third with the ability to take up positions in pockets of space and then affect the game through quick combinations with teammates or through dynamic movements in control of the ball. These numbers represent a player who will already be at the head of a lot of shortlists at top clubs who use data as a part of their recruitment framework when identifying potential targets.
Lindstrom also represents the growing number of young football players who have a presence on the online gaming world. The young Dane has taken part in organised competitions playing FIFA 21 and by all accounts his performances have impressed those who are already involved in the game in a professional capacity. Lindstrom is said to use the game to build his understanding of positions and angles on the pitch and he takes these lessons and translates them to his performances on the pitch.
With Lindstrom it is fair to say that his performances more than match his data.
Movement in the penalty area
One of the first things that stands out when you watch Lindstrom play is the amount of positions on the pitch in which he appears. He is, on paper, either a traditional striker or an attacking midfielder although in truth he is so versatile in the positions that he adopts that he interchanges often between the two.
He understands spacing and is especially impressive when creating space for himself in the penalty area. As opposed to always crashing towards goal when the ball is wide he likes to allow the defender to move back before looking to receive the ball via a cut back at the edge of the area.
We see a clear example of this in this image as Lindstrom creates space for himself in the area before receiving the ball and having time to shoot at goal. As the ball is progressed down the right-hand side we see that the defenders continue to recover back towards their own goal.
Lindstrom is smart enough to allow them to continue to move back before dropping off at the edge of the area and receiving the ball back from the wide area. These nuances are important because young players can be slightly more rash in these positions when looking to attack the goal quickly and aggressively. That Lindstrom is already thinking about his positioning in this way speaks well to his maturity as a player.
Here we see a near-identical situation on the same side of the pitch but in a different match. Once again the attack is being built down the right-hand side and Lindstrom is moving to support the attack from a deeper position
Once again we see that Lindstrom allows the defenders to move into deeper positions before drawing back into a position from where he can receive the ball in space.
Finding pockets of space
As well as being able to create space in congested penalty areas Lindstrom also impresses when creating and occupying spaces in the opposition half in which he can receive the ball. He understands how to drift into areas that take advantage of the spaces in the opposition defensive structure. This can mean operating in the space between the opposition midfield and defence or just simply occupying space horizontally between two opposition players. These spaces allow him to receive the ball comfortably before then moving into areas that threaten the opposition defensive line.
In this example we see this kind of movement to receive the ball in action. The opposition are poorly spaced in their defensive structure and as such Lindstrom is able to receive the ball on the front foot before pushing immediately into space.
Just before this image was captured Lindstrom had actually moved a few paces away from the ball in order to move deeper into the space that the opposition were giving up. As he receives the ball he is capable of driving in possession towards the defensive line or finding a pass that will break through the last line and send a teammate forward into space.
The key in this example lies, again, in the fact that Lindstrom is smart enough to make a small movement away from the defensive player in order to give himself more space before he receives.
This time he is taking a short forward pass but receiving in a pocket between eight opposition players with the time to turn and face the defensive line. As he receives the ball, we see the Brondby player on the far side make a move between two defenders and Lindstrom has the technical ability and timing to access this run with a through ball that creates an immediate goalscoring opportunity for his teammate as he moves into the penalty area.
As well as being aware of the importance of spacing in deeper areas to enable the build-up phase Lindstrom is also capable of creating space as he leads the highest line in moments of attacking transition.
We see an example of this in this image as Brondby are driving the ball through the central areas of the pitch. Lindstrom firstly makes a small movement away from the ball in order to create a better angle to receive the ball as he moves into advanced areas and this angle creates greater separation between him and the defensive players that are closest to his position.
Once again he is able to receive the ball on the front foot with a positive first touch to drive into space away from the defensive players.
Lindstrom is creative and shows a clear tendency to make the correct choices when moving in space.
Engaging defenders 1v1
When taking possession outside of the penalty area Lindstrom displays an aggressive streak with his desire to quickly engage and attack opposition players by driving at them with the ball. His size and strength come into play here as he moves past defenders with power and pace.
We see an example of this here as Lindstrom initially receives the ball wide on the left-side of the final third. He immediately wants to drive inside to affect the opposition defensive block. He carries the ball away from two defenders but as he moves centrally the options that are available to him are closed off. There are no longer any viable passing options. Instead, he releases a shot that is perfectly judged and beats the goalkeeper into the top corner.
Lindstrom displays pace without being exceptionally quick but when running with the ball he is excellent when using his body as a means to block opposition defenders as he is running past with the ball.
We see an example of this in this image as Lindstrom is moving to collect a long ball that is played over and down the wide area. He takes possession and slows to force the defender to match his speed before accelerating past and into the penalty area on the outside.
He is also more than capable of beating defenders in tighter spaces. Here he receives the ball in a pocket of space but with his back to goal. An opposition defender moves out from the defensive line in order to close him down.
Lindstrom is able to pin the defender before turning him and moving to attack into the penalty area at an angle.
Football has a tendency to move extremely quickly. Especially for a young player who performs at a high level from an early age. As mentioned earlier in this piece there is no doubt that there will be top-5 leagues who will be closely tracking the performances of Lindstrom as Brondby move towards the end of the Danish season.
With that said, however, there is definitely a compelling case to be made for a player like Lindstrom to stay at the club at which he has developed for at least one more season before looking for the next challenge.
What is certain, however, is that when Lindstrom does eventually move on to a higher level he will do so with the skill set to achieve great things.