Trying To Find Similar Players (Again)

Christian Eriksen

For the next player, I wanted to look at a creative midfielder and after a few looks at other players, I settled on Eriksen. The Danish midfielder moved to Inter last month but has been one of Tottenham’s most important players in recent years, while he was also one of my favourite players to watch when he was at Ajax in Viktor Fischer’s breakout season.

Tottenham didn’t have a great season in 2018/19, which means it likely wasn’t Eriksen’s best year in terms of output but, hopefully, it’s still strong enough to find some interesting players.

Mikkel Damsgaard – FC Nordsjaelland (joining Sampdoria at the end of the season)

This may seem a lazy suggestion with Damsgaard being Danish as well but, for players over a certain threshold for deep completed passes and passes into the penalty area, the teenager has the 3rd most similar output to Eriksen for U23’s.

Even though the whole point of this is to find players with similar outputs, every time I’ve looked at the numbers side by side for this piece I’ve felt surprised that they’re so similar. A selection of stats for these two can be seen below which shows some similarities.

xA per 900.230.18
Final third passes per 909.548.10
Deep completed passes per 901.72.95
Passes into penalty area per 904.54.52
Thru passes per 903.222.59

Lots has been made of Nordsjaelland’s young squad and small average age numbers, but it could make them a good club to buy from. Damsgaard doesn’t turn 20-years-old until July but by then he’ll have three seasons of regular senior football under his belt. The fact that he’s not only playing senior football at a young age but he’s also putting up some decent numbers – while playing for a non-dominant side – is hugely encouraging.

Given Sampdoria’s record in recent years for taking talent from smaller leagues and developing it (Lucas Torreira, Milan Škriniar, Patrik Schick, Dennis Praet as some examples) Damsgaard’s next move could be a good move for both player and club – provided Sampdoria can stay up this season. He can gain experience at a higher-level while, if he can transfer his strong numbers, Sampdoria will likely make a nice profit.

Looking at a few clips of Damsgaard, it seems mostly what you’d expect. Strong technically with a nice passing range.

A big part of why I wanted to include the next pass is because the pass by the defender is nice too, but I also like how Damsgaard sends his pass behind the right-back rather than in front of him.

This next pass feels a bit Eriksen-y. It would have been nice if he could have slid it low to the player wide right, but the angle might get closed down too soon.

Damsgaard definitely looks like a prospect. Hopefully Sampdoria stay up so we can see how he gets on in Serie A next year.

Other Mentions

Setting a filter to say the player has to have played in attacking midfield and have numbers in Eriksen’s region for all xA per 90, passes to penalty area per 90 and final third passes per 90 only 11 names for U23 players pop up. Damsgaard has the most similar output from these 11 but some other highlights (in order of how similar their output is) include:

Emi BuendíaNorwich: Buendía had some great numbers in 2018/19 which have followed him into the Premier League.

Dan CrowleyWillem II: Now at Birmingham. If you want to read more about him then take a look at this piece by @AshwinRaman_

James Maddison – Leicester: Definitely one that feels nice to pop up fairly high. Also interesting considering he used to play for Norwich after seeing Buendía pop up too.