Alex Lynch writes a detailed scout report about Chelsea’s young centre-back on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach, Andreas Christensen.
Every Football fan in the 1990s remembers Denmark’s remarkable run in the Euros of 1992. It’s been over 20 years since their famous triumph, and Denmark are yet to come close to winning another tournament. And these days, they have found qualifying for Euros and World Cups a struggle. Despite all of their recent disappointments, Denmark has a bright future ahead. Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel (the son of Peter), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Nicklas Bendtner headline the Danish side of modern times. But the latest Danish star who could end up triumphing all of his peers on the national team is Andreas Christensen.
Who is Andreas Christensen?
Christensen was born and raised in the country he represents, Denmark. He was born in a small Danish town called Lillerod with a population just above 16,000. Lillerod lies just 40 miles north of the Danish capital Copenhagen, and as a result, Christensen began his career with local club Brondby IF. Brondby are one of the biggest clubs in Denmark, since they are located in western Copenhagen. The size of his local club helped him get discovered at an early age. Christensen quickly rose through the ranks at Brondby IF, and after only 8 years with his local side, and at only 16 years old, he became a top prospect in Denmark. Some of the top clubs in the Premier League were interested in him, and he chose to sign with Chelsea in February of 2012.
Christensen’s rise continued once he joined the London based side, as he played for his youth national team at the U-17 and U-19 levels after joining Chelsea. And then in 2013, he earned his first U-21 call up despite only being 17-years-old. He was making waves at a club as big as Chelsea, and even then he was being touted as the next big thing from Denmark. Soon after his U-21 call up, he was included in the Chelsea squad but did not play at the end of the 2012-13 season. His first senior match was in the League Cup against Shrewsbury Town in October of last season. Christensen played the full match at his less prefered right-back, and had a good showing for a then 18-year-old. He was good enough for Chelsea to give him another start, this time in the FA Cup. Chelsea ended up losing to Bradford City, but in the two games Christensen showed flashes of what he is capable of. Jose Mourinho knew that he was too good to sit on the bench again this season, and he was subsequently loaned to Borussia Monchengladbach. But before the loan to Gladbach, he made his debut for the Denmark senior team. He featured in a friendly this past June against Montenegro, which Denmark won 2-1. Christensen has earned another cap for Denmark since his debut, as his season with Gladbach got underway. Since veteran defenders Martin Stranzl and Tony Jantschke got injured and were out of form, Andre Schubert gave Christensen a chance in the first team. He has been undroppable since then, and he’s shown that the flashes that he showed at Chelsea were no fluke. Christensen has become a consistent performer for Gladbach, and he had a 7.06 match rating according to whoscored.com. That makes him one of the Bundesliga’s top defenders so far, and he has been the best defender in Gladbach according to his match rating. His latest standout performance was against Werder Bremen, in a match that saw Christensen pick up two goals. With his characteristics, there is no reason why Christensen can’t keep playing the way he has this season.
Talent Radar Accolades:
Named in 100 to Watch in 2017 feature
Named in 100 to Watch in 2016 feature
Style of Play, Strengths, and Weaknesses
Andreas Christensen can do it all on the pitch. He is a centre back that has a wide set of skills, something very reminiscent of Mats Hummels. This is because of one of his main strengths, his passing ability. Every statistic supports his passing ability, as Christensen has a very high passing percentage of 86.6%. That is very good for any player, much less a defender of his age. He also averages over 4 long balls per game, which helps Gladbach’s pace filled attackers Raffael and Ibrahima Traore. His ability to pass and deliver accurate long balls to his teammates is something that is rare in a defender. He has an assist to show for his passing skills as well, and his passing as much as his defending has made him a key player for Andre Schubert. His passing ability far outweighs that of any other defender that Schubert has at his disposal.
Another rare trait that Christensen has that many defenders don’t is anticipation. He averages almost 4 interceptions per game this season, more than Bayern’s Jerome Boateng. Along with his impressive amount of interceptions, he also averages 4 clearances per game. This displays that Christensen is able to intercept the ball and then clear it away with ease, while also showing his impressive decision making. His ability to intercept the ball and prevent counter-attacks from starting is important for a Gladbach side that has a possession-based game and is susceptible on the counter attack. He has anticipation levels that are incredibly high for a defender with his level of experience, and he’s only going to become better at reading and stopping the opposition. His ability to read the opposition makes him a complete defender, and one who can stop the opposition on the ground and in the air.
Another strength that Christensen has, which might be his most impressive one, is his composure and steadiness on the pitch. In 17 Bundesliga games this season, Christensen has a grand total of zero bookings, and he rarely fouls the opponent. This is an incredible feat for any defender, much less a 19-year-old who has hardly played any first division football. And unlike his physical traits, this ability that Christensen has to avoid fouls is something that will never deteriorate or go away. He is the opposite of most of the players of his nature, as most young defenders in an attacking and pressing league like the Bundesliga have struggled to stay composed. And because of that fact, his composure isn’t luck, because Christensen has been able to maintain composure with relative ease. In fact, he matches up well with fellow top prospects Jon Tah and Niklas Sule with his great discipline.
While Andreas Christensen is an incredibly impressive young defender, he still has weaknesses he needs to fix. One of his main weaknesses is his muscle and physical figure. Despite standing at an impressive height of 6’2, he weighs less than 170 pounds. That makes him an incredibly light defender, and this lack of muscle has resulted in some flaws in his game. He can get bullied on corners and in aerial duels by players who are smaller than he is. This neutralizes his impressive height to a degree as well. Besides his lack of muscle, Christensen also has almost no playing experience. He never played in the Danish Super League before joining Chelsea, whom he hardly played for before heading to Gladbach. This has made his rapid rise surprising to say the least, while it also raises the question of if or when people start to exploit his lack of experience. Despite his lack of muscle and experience, Andreas Christensen is a terrific young defender with incredible potential.
What does the Future Hold?
While Christensen improves his game and develops at Gladbach, his rapid rise has sparked transfer rumors and speculation. The more that football fans and executives find out about Christensen, the more that they begin to realize his abilities. Gladbach and Chelsea want Christensen and his loan deal could be cut short because of his performances. Other top European clubs have been looking at him as well. The Denmark senior team has been noticing what he has done, and he could become an undroppable player for Denmark. Danish players like Christensen have been the backbone of European powers like Man United, Chelsea and Barcelona. With all of the history that Denmark has with producing talent, Christensen could not only become the next man on that impressive line of players, but he could be one of the greatest of them all.
Written by Alex Lynch
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