Feature

Scouting Scandinavia: Three young players ready to make the grade

Following in the footsteps of Haaland and Odegaard, here are three more young Nordic talents

 
10:00am on Tuesday 5th May 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Scandinavia is becoming a hotspot for young talent.

With Erling Haaland's massive impact and Martin Odegaard beginning to come good at Real Sociedad, all eyes are on the region to see who may emerge next.

Here, we’ll look at three potential superstars from the region, two of whom have already earned moves.

Emil Bohinen - Stabaek

21 yrs - M (C) - Stabæk
65
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
2419
Played matches
29
4
6
AVG Rating
7.0
Touches P90
67.69
Successful passing %
81%
Final third passes P90
12.79

Strengths: Passing, composure, vision

Plays (a bit) like: Fabian Ruiz

Like Haaland, 21-year-old Bohinen has a famous dad, with father Lars having enjoyed a good career in the Premier League and for the Norwegian national side. Emil is steadily moving through the ranks of the national set and currently features for the Norway U21s.

In the 2019 Norwegian Eliteserien he was the best performing player 21 or under and the fifth-best overall according to our FC Ranking. In 27 league appearances for Stabaek in 2019, he made 10 goal contributions from central midfield, and on average, he completed 48.4 passes P90 with an average of 12.8 being sent into dangerous areas in the final third.

His heat map is heavy on central positioning and often start as the team’s deepest midfielder, but this is order for him to dictate the play rather than to provide a defensive shield to the backline. His 7.1 ball recoveries P90 is the sixth-highest outfielder in the Eliteserein, while his 1.8 Interceptions P90 is the fourth-best among midfielders (min 1,000 mins).

Bohinen’s play echoes that of Napoli's Fabian Ruiz. Both players are of a similar stature boasting a a tall frame and long stride, and are strikingly similar when carrying the ball.

Young talent doesn’t tend to stick around in the Eliteserien too long, and the 21-year-old has been strongly linked with transfers to Brighton, Leeds, and Sheffield United. Given the transfer market may be about to suffer a recalibration, he may be available at a reasonable fee - expect to see him in England soon.

View Emil Bohinen's full FootballCritic profile

Mikkel Damsgaard (Nordsjaelland, now Sampdoria)

19 yrs - F, M (C) - Nordsjælland
69
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1896
Played matches
23
9
4
Shots P90
2.28
Dribbles P90
2.23
Successful passing %
80%
Final third passes P90
20.83

Strengths: Passing, dribbling, technique

Plays (a bit) like: Dries Mertens

Within the top 20 highest-rated performers in the Danish Superliga this season, there are only two teenagers are featured, Mohammed Kudus and Damsgaard, both of Nordsjaelland. who both earned an average rating of 7.2 for 2019/20.

Damsgaard has already earned a transfer to Sampdoria for a fee of around €6.8m but the move to Italy could be merely a stepping stone, such is his talents. He has featured in both central midfield and centre forward this season and has shown real potential in both roles.

Nordsjaelland may only be in fifth in the Superliga, but the performances of the 19-year-old were a clear standout for one so young. He made 13 goal contributions in 21 appearances (nine goals and four assists). He sits seventh on the list of non-penalty goal contributions P90, impressive considering his deployment in two different positions.

He averages 42.6 passes a game, with nearly half of those (20.8) of his passes are sent into the final third; Damsgaard is a player always looking to create chances and progress his team forward than retain possession.

Possessing a superb change of pace, Damsgaard could have been an old-fashioned winger but his desire to be more involved in the play seems him come inside regularly. It seems inevitable that he will soon be deployed behind the striker permanently as it is within these areas he flourishes, and it will be Interesting to see if Sampdoria utilise him as such.

In terms of comparisons, Dries Mertens springs to mind, the Belgian spending much of his career on the left wing drifting inside, only to be eventually moved into the centre where he has enjoyed arguably the best years of that career.

But it isn’t an exaggeration to say that there is a hint of Josip Ilicic about him. Although not as tall as the Slovenian, Damsgaard has a languid style when in possession, while the way he strikes the ball from distance is uncanny when compared to Ilicic.

It will be easier to compare the duo when they face off against each other in Serie A next season.

View Mikkel Damsgaard's full FootballCritic profile

Victor Nelsson - Copenhagen

21 yrs - D (C) - København
69
Defending
Creative
Passing
Attacking
Shooting
Decisive
Aerials
Physical
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
1959
Played matches
22
0
0
SUCCESSFUL PASSING %
88%
Tackles P90
0.55
Touches P90
83.57
Clearances P90
4.69

Strengths: Passing, composure, positioning

Plays (a bit) like: Gerard Pique

21-year-old Nelsson has already been called up to the senior Danish national team, and started his career as a midfielder for Nordsjaelland before quickly being repackaged as a centre-half and, is often the case in the modern game, his finest attribute is passing out from the back.

With elite teams within leagues now routinely facing at least 10 men behind the ball, defenders are given a lot more space to break into midfield and pick out passes. That is exactly why Nelsson has flourished since his move to Copenhagen from Nordsjaelland in July, as not only does he see plenty of the ball, but he uses it effectively.

Above, we see Nilsson breaking out from the defensive line despite being surrounded by opponents. He proceeds to pick out a perfect, raking diagonal pass to the left-hand side.In the Superliga this season, the young Dane averages 72.7 passes per game, with 88% reaching their target - the third-most of any player in Denmark (min 1,000 mins).

He is a player who doesn't often go to ground, and while staying on his feet Nelsson wins an average of 4.7 duels per game, a 68% success rate.

He is still developing, but he has already generated an understanding and reading of the game from deeper areas, as displayed by his average of 1.3 Interceptions and 4.9 ball recoveries P90 minutes, despite Copenhagen regularly dominating games.

View Victor Nelsson's full FootballCritic profile

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