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The international football stage today appears incredibly saturated with compelling young superstars barely out of their teens. Names like Kylian Mbappé, Jadon Sancho and Ousmane Dembélé have boasted a stratospheric rise to the summit of the professional game and have printed their own unique stamp on the sport. It is exciting that players of such youthfulness already come equipped with the skills and talent to leave even the world’s best footballers in their shadows.
Kasper Dolberg is a name that is likely to cue head-scratching and blasé facial expressions. Despite his apparent invisibility from the global spotlight, however, the young Dane certainly harbours the immense potential of becoming one of the sport’s best strikers. Standing at an impressive stature of a little under six foot two and paired with a set of stocky broad shoulders, his frame may draw insinuations that his role in the side is to merely hold up the ball and maintain a firm presence in the box. Wrong.
Despite his somewhat large build, Dolberg is a player with exceptional pace. Marry this to his assured ball control and savvy decision-making and you have a player at your disposal who could prove to be a real handful for opposition teams. Given his rapid progression and plaudits of his ability echoing from all corners, Dolberg looks set to follow in the footsteps of Christian Eriksen and take on the mantle of being the next Danish global prodigy.
Born in 1997 in the small Danish town of Silkeborg, Dolberg began his path in football from a young age, playing for the GfG Voel youth sides as a precocious seven-year-old. It quickly became established that his skill set was of a particularly advanced level for his age, so he was subsequently signed to local team Silkeborg IF. Dolberg continued to attract the attention of national level scouts, who drafted the teenager into the Denmark side at under-16, under-17, under-19 and under-21 level.
A healthy goal-scoring record at both junior and senior level was attracting plenty of attention to Dolberg, and it wasn’t long before Amsterdam-based side Ajax announced that the 17-year-old would join from Silkeborg IF in the summer of 2015 on a three-year contract. He had been spotted by Danish scout John Steen Olsen – the same pair of eyes that had discovered players such as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Christian Eriksen. In 2016, Dolberg agreed to have his contract extended, keeping him at the club until the 2021 season.
Almost immediately, Dolberg began to cause a stir amongst the ranks at the Dutch capital club. Flourishing in an environment that was able to nurture his exceptional raw talent, he scored on his UEFA Champions League debut and became the youngest non-Dutch player to score a hat-trick for Ajax after a comprehensive win in an Eredivisie match against NEC. Regular first-team goals ensured that he became a staple name on the team sheet as Dolberg quickly established the trust of both players and managers.
Dolberg’s spectacular ability was also recognised through his numerous accolades. In 2016, the 19-year-old was awarded both the Danish and Dutch Talent of the Year, before winning the AFC Ajax Talent of the Year in the following season. In his 66 senior appearances for the Dutch side, Dolberg has recorded 30 goals in all forms of competition – an impressive figure for a player barely out of his teens. Because of his impressive record, club giants F.C. Barcelona and Napoli have been consistently tracking the progress of the youngster, and if he continues his superb form it may not be long before we see Dolberg leave Amsterdam for a prodigious transfer fee.
There is an exciting future ahead of Dolberg. The 21-year-old shares many physical and technical attributes that match very closely to that of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Luis Suarez, which speaks volumes in itself. The centre-forward is yet to score in this season’s UEFA Champions League, which possibly indicates that there is still groundwork to be done before he can become the world-beater that his raw ability promises us. But, at the tender age of 21 and with the continued support and coaching he’ll receive at the Johann Cruijff Arena, it is seemingly undeniable that we will be referring to Kasper Dolberg as one of Europe’s best players in years to come.