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Can Mikkel Damsgaard fill the void left by Christian Eriksen’s departure?

Brentford knew it would be a near-impossible task to replace the extraordinary Christian Eriksen, who recently left for Manchester United, and has done a solid job in signing Mikkel Damsgaard from Sampdoria.

Although Damsgaard is a very different player to his Denmark teammate, Damsgaard’s catch will bring some important creativity, imagination and quality to the ball that was lost when Eriksen left.

The man who will be remembered by England fans for scoring a superb goal for Denmark at Euro 2020 against the Three Lions has joined for a very reasonable fee of reportedly around £12million and was cleverly caught by the Bees taken.

The versatile 22-year-old has shown his class at Sampdoria over the past two years, although his 2021/2022 campaign ended in injury, meaning he only made 12 appearances for the Blucerchiati. There’s no doubt what an exciting talent the versatile 22-year-old is.

“Mikkel is another classic Brentford signing, I think. He’s a young player with great potential for development. We know we can help Mikkel reach his highest level, we have the staff here who have experience and so are we.” I’m looking forward to working with him,” says Thomas Frank.

The Brentford manager added: “Mikkel is a player who showed his promise at FC Nordsjælland and Sampdoria and at last summer’s European Championship when he had a fantastic tournament for Denmark.

“He was unlucky with injuries last year but we have already seen that he is an extremely skilled player who can run with the ball and move it well. Aware of the space around him, he plays on the half-turn. He also wants to play up front and can do that either by passing or dribbling.

“What is important is that he is a player who fits into our dressing room. He’s a great character, he wants to work hard, he wants to work for the team and he wants to grow.”

Where will Damsgaard play at Brentford?

Despite being mainly used as a winger at Samp, Frank clearly intends to play Damsgaard as number eight or ten, positions the youngster is also familiar with and which his new manager believes will get the best out of him .

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As a wizard with the ball at his feet, his playmaking skills in these key areas will be valuable in helping his team unlock defences, break the lines and force forward runs.

Reading situations coherently and spotting runners sharply, his measured through balls are a great weapon for him. Damsgaard’s ability to create chances, waiting for just the right moment to release the ball in line with a teammate’s run, is a delight.

Hitting the ball with his unmistakable technique, full of precision and well weighted passes, his new teammates at Brentford will enjoy his silver serve.

Much of this ensures the Danish Dynamo is handy at locating colleagues in the box with accurate crosses and cutbacks.

Once he’s settled on the best target area, he weighs his options wisely, hitting his deliveries with either power, dip, sweep, or along the carpet to give runners every chance of a finish.

Light on his feet and quick-witted, the way he engages in intricate close-range combination play adds to his menace.

Whether it’s neat one- and two-touch layoffs or subtle back heels and flicks, his ability here allows him to unlock and unbalance backlines and get the ball into forward-facing teammates, which can then immediately pose a threat.

He brings added momentum through his searing changes of game, dinks to create chances, how he smoothly recycles the ball when the progressive option isn’t available, and how he uses his eyes and body shape to deceptively camouflage his passes, all of which add to his value elevated.

This complements his polished distribution with his excellent dribbling, exacerbating problems for opponents when trying to negate his impact.

Possessing razor-sharp ball control and a clean first touch, Damsgaard enjoys 1v1 games and driving into open spaces and is a handful for any defender in such situations.

Able to outsmart opponents with feints, shimmies, quick cuts in the field, searing twists and turns out of trouble, and capitalizing on solid speed, the quick-thinking attacker is one such weapon on the ball.

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A key byproduct related to its pressing resistance and ball handling is that it draws multiple markers to create space for teammates to take advantage of, opening up fast lanes while destabilizing defenses.

Being aware of his surroundings due to his scanning helps him find gaps and allows him to adjust his pre-reception posture depending on nearby opponents.

Damsgaard’s finish then added another dimension to his game, with his penchant for spectacular goals and efforts from the edge of the box with minimal back lift being particularly notable.

Opening his body to position himself, he quickly prepares to wrap his foot around the ball with power or placement, and his confident shots amplify his quality.

It’s also worth noting how he instinctively stays ahead of his markers and targets gaps in the rearguard, with the following example aptly underscoring this.

The 23-year-old shifts the focus to his movement and the 23-year-old excels at finding space between the lines and in the half-spaces to connect the game.

Handy in dodging enemy cover shadows to provide an option, this is a keyline for his bow, giving him the platform to turn around and breathe life into attacks.

Knowing when and where to move to connect the game, his ability to share with peers and create overloads in central and wider areas lets him help build his team to move skillfully through thirds can.

Indeed, his strength here should match his new role at Brentford where he will mainly operate in central areas and in the half-spaces.

Damsgaard is also demonstrating how effective he can be when charging into the box with penetrating, late-arriving runs, and is good at making the leap at pursuers who are watching the ball, busy or not realizing if he’s their blindside with diagonals running from the outside inwards.

His defensive work also has something to offer that would have made him even more popular with Frank, because he is extremely active in this phase.

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Whether it’s chasing opponents with your pressing, showing tenacity in the challenge of recovering the ball, tracing back to complete marking duties, adjusting your position to stay compact, and sticking to triggers, this amplifies its effectiveness.

By the numbers when you compare him to Eriksen Wyscout Data in the last 1000 minutes or so, Damsgaard impressively holds the superiority in many offensive metrics such as successful attacking actions per 90, dribbling per 90, offensive duels per 90, touches in the penalty area p 90, key passes p 90, intelligent passes p 90, depth Terminations p90 and continuous balls p90.

In terms of defensive performance, little Damsgaard ranks ahead of Eriksen in some key stats, outperforming him in areas like p90 defensive duels, p90 interceptions and p90 possession-adjusted interceptions.

Although he arrives with some injury worries, the Bees have made it clear his medical has been perfect which bodes well that he will be ready to put up a fight once he settles into life in Brentford and the rigors of the Premier League integrated.

However, that adjustment process should go far more smoothly than usual due to Brentford’s strong Danish contingent, who will give him every chance to settle in as soon as possible.

Despite not yet being at Eriksen’s elite level and bringing some different things to the table than the late Dane, all signs are promising that he can help fill the void left by the now Man Utd star as he did can not only score, create, advance the ball, but also defend at a high level.

The multi-faceted Damsgaard, who at just 22 years old and with huge potential for improvement has the desired ability to transform a game in the blink of an eye with a magical moment, is certainly a smart deal.

And one that will definitely improve the overall quality of Brentford’s squad as they look to continue and flex their muscles in their second season in the Premier League.


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