Who Is Joachim Andersen And Why Does Everyone Want To Sign Him?

March 27, 2019

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There’s a solid crop of centre-backs at Denmark head coach Age Hareide’s disposal at present. Captain Simon Kjaer and Zanka are the experienced duo in the national squad, but in Andreas Christensen and Joachim Andersen, Hareide is able to call upon two young defenders that could become the foundation to build upon for the best part of a decade.

Christensen’s league minutes may have been sporadic, with the youngster firmly behind David Luiz and Antonio Ruidger in Maurizio Sarri’s pecking order at Stamford Bridge, but in the Europa League, the 22-year-old has shone. Chelsea are the favourites to land European silverware this season and with a cornerstone of Christensen upon which to shine, it’s not difficult to see why with the Dane ranking high for pass success rate (94%) in the competition, as per WhoScored.com.

Fellow ball-playing centre-back Andersen could well be joining Christensen in England in the foreseeable future, too, if reports in recent months are to be believed. The pair’s mature performances are well beyond their tender years as the duo implement a similar style of defending, with the onus on patiently building out from the back.

There’s greater focus on centre-backs instigating attacks in the modern game, with the next generation of top class defenders not only capable of snuffing out danger, but able to pick out a teammate with ease. Take the likes of John Stones, Aymeric Lapore, Matthijs de Ligt and Presnel Kimpembe, the quartet, among others, each return a pass success rate in excess of 90% and while, by comparison, there has been less fanfare surrounding Andersen, he fits this group.

A pass success rate of 89% is second only to defensive partner Lorenzo Tonelli (89.4%) of all Sampdoria players this season, as per WhoScored.com, while only Kalidou Koulibaly (1700) has completed more passes than Andersen (1528) of defenders in Serie A. Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have all been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old in recent months and for good reason too.

He may’ve been forced to watch Denmark’s entertaining 3-3 draw with Switzerland from the bench, with Andersen an unused sub as he waits for international recognition, but having represented the Danish Dynamite from U16 through to U21 level, it’s only a matter of time before he earns that first senior cap and interested parties would be wise to acquiring the youngster prior to that in order to keep costs down.

That’s not to say that even an inflated fee as a result of a first Denmark cap wouldn’t be undeserving, but rather a bargain buy is a possibility, particularly where big money moves are mooted for centre-backs in the modern market. There is no denying that Andersen is destined for the very top and a big summer move is undoubtedly on the cards, even if Sampdoria would be reluctant to see the back of the Great Dane.

He’d be following the line of promising young defenders to make the next step in their career having risen to the top at Sampdoria, with Shkodran Mustafi and Milan Skriniar each making a name for themselves before going on to bigger and better things. Andersen is very much expected to be the next off the Samp ranks and any team would be luck to have him. Standing at 6’4”, he is an imposing figure at the heart of the Sampdoria defence, though his greatest strength remains his ball playing ability.

It isn’t just short safe passes either that has helped stat-pad his numbers, but rather the incisive raking long balls that can quickly set Sampdoria on the front foot. Indeed, only Marcelo Brozovic (168) has made more accurate long balls than Andersen (153) of outfield players in Serie A this season, as per WhoScored.com, and this highlights his impressive vision and it means the Blucerchiati are able to transition from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. Tottenham’s interest, then, comes as no real shock as the north London side brace themselves for the potential summer exit of defensive lynchpin Toby Alderweireld.

As composed on the ball as he is off it means Andersen relies on his positional awareness rather than being forced into last-ditch challenges to deny opponents and it’s this approach that means while he is putting in modest returns of 1.3 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game, he’s also committing just 0.9 fouls per game, which has seen him accumulate just six yellow cards. A ban forced him to miss the 2-1 loss to Juventus prior to Italy’s winter break, but an ever-present in the side has helped Andersen come on leaps and bounds, which is all the more notable when you take into consideration he made just six league starts in a difficult debut campaign in Italy.

He may not be the finished article at present, however Andersen’s on the right path to establishing himself as one of the finest ball-playing defenders on the continent and it’s no wonder Europe’s elite are monitoring his development closely. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him rock up to a Premier League side near you this summer, but don’t be surprised if there is a mad scramble for his signature when the transfer window opens later this year.

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Author: Ben McAleer

Ben is a fountain of statistical knowledge at WhoScored.com and has a penchant for all things Luka Modric. Alongside his role at WhoScored.com, you can also find him at Sky Sports, The Guardian and Swansea City

Twitter @BenMcAleer1

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