Jesper Lindstrøm: A Mixed Start to life in the Bundesliga for one of Denmark’s Biggest Talents by Adam Khan
It’s been a difficult season for Eintracht Frankfurt, going out in the first round of the DFB Pokal, and waiting until their 9th match of the season for the first win in all competitions.
Whilst even the most pessimistic SGE supporters would have been hoping for a more impressive start, the warning signs were there following a turbulent summer window.
André Silva, the club’s top single-season scorer in Bundesliga history will be going on the goal-hunt for RB Leipzig from now on, whilst manager Adi Hütter and sporting director Fredi Bobic have also departed for Bundesliga rivals.
Oliver Glasner, formerly of VFL Wolfsburg, has taken the managerial role from his countryman, whilst the André Silva goalscoring burden has been spread across a trio of arrivals.
Two out-and-out center forwards have signed in Sam Lammers and Colombian international Rafael Borré, but the marquee purchase was 21-year old Jesper Lindstrøm.
The Danish youth international represents both the present and future for Eintracht Frankfurt, arriving for €7.00m after starring in Brøndby IF’s first Danish title for 16 years. With 28 starts, 10 goals, and a league-high 11 assists, it felt like a coup for the Bundesliga when Lindstrøm’s signing was announced on the same day as the Euro 2020 final.
However, only the smallest hint of Lindstrøm’s outlandish talent has been on display thus far, with the Brøndby academy graduate yet to open his account after featuring in all 7 of Frankfurt’s Bundesliga fixtures.
Though it is far too premature to consider Lindstrøm a flop, it’s worrying to watch such a talented youngster falter in the early stages of his topflight career.
In this player analysis, Adam Khan analyzes the key features which made Lindstrøm such an appealing prospect at Brøndby, and looks into the deeper reasons why he has failed to live up to expectations in the opening weeks of his Frankfurt career.
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Though Lindstrøm’s 21-goal contributions were the major factor in propelling him onto the shortlist of numerous European clubs, it’s his versatility and flexible playstyle which makes him a truly exceptional talent.
In 27 of his 28 starts for Brøndby Lindstrøm was displayed as an attacking midfielder. However, his fluid movement and creative instincts meant he was likely to pop up anywhere in the final third, or even pick up possession in a deep-lying playmaker role.
This constant flirtation between positions not only made Lindstrøm a nuisance for opposition defenders, but it also allowed him to seek out open spaces on the pitch to highlight one of his key strengths: carrying possession forward.
When able to find pockets of space, Lindstrøm commits opposition defenders before finding the right moment to either go for goal himself, or thread a teammate through. This fluidity across the final third and appreciation for open spaces was a key reason why Eintracht Frankfurt made him one of their prime candidates over the summer.
Out of possession Lindstrøm was a tenacious and an intelligent presser at Brøndby, but he lacks the physical attributes (1.81m and roughly 63 kg) to excel in a deeper role at the top-level. At the Under 21 Euros last Spring he did line up in a box-to-box 8 role, however this doesn’t necessarily offer a good comparison as there is a profound physical jump from youth football to the professional game .
So all in all, here is how Lindstrøm profiled following his breakout season at Brøndby IF:
(+) Consistent contributor in the final third
(+) Good age profile with a solid amount of mid-tier experience
(+) Highly versatile & Fluid in possession
(+) Good recognition of where open space is & how to exploit it
(+) Extremely adept at carrying possession forward & committing opposition defenders
(+) Quick, agile, & impressive change of direction for a player operating primarily in central areas
(-) Physically slight
(-) Unimpressive aerial contributions
(-) Unsuitable for a deeper midfield role at the top-level
Now, let’s move on to look at where he has fallen short so far at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Whereas 7 matches into the 2020/21 Superliagaen campaign Lindstrøm was on 3 goals and 2 assists, the Danish youth international is still waiting to open his account 7 matches into this season’s Bundesliga.
Though it would be short-sighted to base a verdict entirely off of goal contributions, Lindstrøm’s shot locations display a worrying trend rather than a bit of bad luck.
The Brøndby academy graduate has taken 7 shots so far this season, with a combined value of .60 xG. Not a single shot location was awarded a goal probability higher than 14%, whilst Lindstrøm was only able to force a save from the keeper on one occasion. Simply put, Frankfurt’s #29 is snatching at chances.
Rather than look for a better placed teammate or take another touch to settle, Lindstrøm is so determined to break his goal-drought that he loses sight of the technique and tranquility which made him so lethal last season. It’s a typical case of trying too hard, a common phenomenon for young players looking to prove their talent in a bigger setting, but one which they must snap out of quickly if they are to survive under the bold stage lights.
All the blame shouldn’t be shouldered solely by Lindstrøm however.
In Amin Younes, Aymen Barkok, Jens Petter Hauge, Daichi Kamada, and Jesper Lindstrøm, Oliver Glasner has 5 creative midfielders who profile extremely alike. All of them prefer the ball to feet rather than in behind, and all of them, bar potentially Younes, love to drift into pockets all across the final third.
Whilst this isn’t inherently bad, it does create numerous scenarios where the Frankfurt attack is unnecessarily congested as too many players look to get on the ball at once. This cuts down the space, drags defenders onto the Frankfurt player in possession, and doesn’t allow Lindstrøm to do what he does best: finding, and penetrating, empty pockets of space.
It’s no surprise then that Lindstrøm’s best performances for Die Eintracht came in a fixture against the German Rekordmeister, Bayern Munich. Frankfurt were clear outsiders, lined up in a defensive 3-4-2-1, and looked to capitalize on transition moments to hurt their superior opponents.
Without another free creative presence closing down the passing channels, Lindstrøm looked more than worthy of his €7.00m price tag. Though Frankfurt shouldn’t necessarily shun the likes of Hauge and Kamada for Lindstrøm’s benefit, finding a better way to work their talents in tandem will go a long way in allowing their new signing to flourish.
Despite a sub-optimal start and the rising pressure from his goal drought, Jesper Lindstrøm still has the capacity to become one of the Bundesliga’s most revered u23 talents this season. If the Dane can continue his physical development and overcome his goalscoring duct, there is no reason why he won’t be able to leave a legacy at Eintracht Frankfurt and walk in the footsteps of Brøndy’s two other legendary creators: Michael and Brian Laudrup.
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