Ajax forward Kasper Dolberg is looking to put a disappointing campaign behind him and prove that he is one of the most gifted young strikers in Europe.

  • By Michael Bell
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Christian Eriksen, Viktor Fischer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were all scouted and brought to Amsterdam by John Steen Olsen and in the summer of 2015, he recommended that Ajax sign a 17-year-old Kasper Dolberg from Silkeborg. The forward had risen through the Danish club’s academy and had already made three first-team appearances by the time he moved to Ajax.

Dolberg spent his first season in the U19’s, scoring eight times, but in the summer of 2016, Arkaduisz Milik had departed Ajax for Napoli leaving the club short up front and Peter Bosz decided to start with the youngster for their Champions League qualifier with PAOK. Ajax were disappointing and fell behind in the first half, but on 57 minutes Dolberg popped up with the crucial equaliser. From that moment, Dolberg was the club’s first choice forward and a star was born.

In the Eredivisie, Dolberg scored 16 times and added six assists, but it was in the Europa League that he made a name for himself. Ajax made it to the final, with the Dane netting six goals along the way including a pivotal away goal in the semi-final second leg at Lyon. That summer, Dolberg was linked with several of Europe’s top sides and a €50 million bid from AS Monaco was reportedly turned down by Ajax. He remained in Amsterdam, but the club brought in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to provide competition up front.

Dolberg remained first choice for new boss Marcel Keizer and he played the full ninety minutes of both legs of their Champions League qualifiers with OGC Nice, but the youngster didn’t score and didn’t impress. His drought continued into the league season and with Ajax knocked out of Europe by Rosenborg in the Europa League before the end of August, Ten Hag turned to Huntelaar.

Finally, on October 22nd Dolberg scored his first league goals of the season, coming off the bench with 25 minutes left to net a double in a 4-1 win over rivals Feyenoord. This led to him being reinstated to the starting eleven, but only three goals came in the next nine games before a foot injury ruled him out for two months. When Dolberg returned in April, he was second choice, but started the final game of the season against Excelsior and scored in a 2-1 win.

This summer, Dolberg was selected in Denmark’s squad for the World Cup but the 20-year-old only made one substitute appearance during the tournament.

His pre-season has been cut short due to injury which caused the Dane to miss Ajax’s Champions League qualifiers with Sturm Graz and Standard Liege.

Style of Play

Dolberg is a typical Ajax centre-forward whose game is not only built on goals but also his link-up play with the rest of the team.

The Dane has exceptional technique, can play with his back to goal, has good dribbling ability, pace, great movement and can score with either foot. Dolberg has everything to be an exceptional striker at the highest level and has drawn comparisons with Ajax and Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp.

The only thing standing in his way this season is confidence, which was clearly low last year after losing his place in the starting eleven.

What to expect from Dolberg this season

There is no doubt about it that Dolberg goes into this season with something to prove. His first year with the Ajax first-team was explosive and he rightly became one of the most highly rated young strikers in Europe, but last season was a huge disappointment. The injury definitely played a part, but before that, Dolberg wasn’t in form and lost his place in the eleven to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Dolberg will be eager to put last year behind him, cement his place as Ajax’s first choice striker and fire them to the Eredivisie title. If he does that then his star will once again rise and it will be hard for the Amsterdammers to stop the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid from circling.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)