After a breakout season which saw Andreas Skov Olsen score a remarkable 19 goals in 26 league appearances, the 19-year-old Dane has secured a move to Italy’s top flight to play for Bologna. Olsen would’ve likely finished as the season’s top goalscorer in Denmark had it not been for the exploits of another goal-scoring winger in Robert Skov. After featuring heavily in the Denmark U21’s side at this Summer’s Euros, Olsen is already building an impressive CV and Bologna may consider themselves lucky having snapped the winger up from Nordsjaelland for only five million euros.
This tactical analysis will provide a scout report on the promising youngster, profiling the type of player Olsen is and just how he’ll fit into Bologna’s tactics. This analysis will focus on the player’s strengths and weaknesses and provide a complete picture of just what we can expect from this exciting prospect.
Olsen predominantly plays off the right-hand side of an offensive front three, where he can cut onto his stronger left foot and release a shot on goal. Standing at six-foot-two, Olsen has a powerful and athletic build which is especially impressive considering at the age of only 19, Olsen’s body is still yet to fully mature.
An offensively minded winger, Olsen’s immaturity is illustrated in his lack of defensive presence. Olsen’s heat map paints a clear picture of a player who only comes alive within the final third of the pitch and who rarely contributes to his team’s buildup of defensive play.
This hasn’t so far perturbed either his club or international managers whose tactics have played to Olsen’s strengths, playing him in front of either a midfield three or back five where he has less responsibility defensively.
Whilst his left foot is a deadly combination of both lethal and cultured, Olsen appears equally comfortable moving the ball onto his right foot where he appears almost equally as capable of finishing with his weaker foot. This dynamism equates to a dangerous attacker who’s composure in the final third hints at a bright future for a player who may one day lead the line for one of Europe’s elite sides as the out-and-out striker.
Not only just a danger with the ball at his feet, but Olsen also demonstrates an instinct usually only held by the most experienced of strikers, using his off-the-ball movement to manipulate the opposition’s defence and exploit the spaces created.
In the above example, Olsen cleverly holds off on making a bursting run into the opposition’s penalty area, instead preferring to remain on the blind side of his defender for a little longer, threatening a run toward the back post. At the critical point in the attack, however, the young winger suddenly changes his movement, darting into the central space inside the opposition’s penalty area providing a more dangerous threat to the opposition’s goal.
Olsen’s movement and instinct have contributed to the production of a frankly frightening statistical output. In the Danish Superleague last season, Olsen produced numbers of 3.35 shots per 90, 5.92 touches in the opposition’s penalty area per 90, xG of 0.41 per 90 as well as xA of 0.16 per 90. These numbers are immensely impressive no matter what age the player is and considering these were Olsen’s numbers at 19 years of age, it’s scary to consider just how good he can become if he can maintain similar numbers throughout his career. These numbers all point to the fact that Olsen is already developing an elite knack of creating goalscoring chances for himself and hence why he may one day have his pick of elite European clubs to move to.
Despite his very impressive attacking exploits, there are some glaring holes in the young Dane’s game. The main argument against Olsen is the fact that he is almost entirely invisible outside of the final third. Olsen is currently an extremely passive player during the buildup phase of the game as his pass maps illustrate.
Outside of the final third, Olsen only has a minimal presence during his side’s buildup and his passes rarely move the ball forward in any meaningful way.
Olsen’s defensive contributions are also minimal. When his side doesn’t have the ball, Olsen applies only minimal pressure to the ball carrier and often positions himself too high up the field and too far away from his fullback.
Olsen prefers instead to position himself high up the pitch, putting himself in the best position possible in the case of a turnover. This rather selfish positioning comes at the detriment of his team as this hands the initiative over to the opposition’s fullback who can easily get a run on the winger and risk overloading the respective flank.
Whilst these weaknesses can easily be fixed under the right manager it means that for the moment, should the youngster encounter a tough spell in front of goal, then it leaves his side effectively playing with only 10 men. In order to truly develop into a player at home in any elite European team, Olsen will have to smooth his rough edges and improve his all-round game so that he can become a more impactful player in every stage of the game.
How he’ll fit in at Bologna
Olsen arrives in Bologna at a rather trying time, the high the side were riding towards the end of last season after the appointment of Siniša Mihajlović has been cut short after the latter’s leukaemia diagnosis. It’s unclear at this stage just quite what tactics the side will use but it’s likely the side will carry on deploying variations of the 4-2-3-1 system that provided their late-season surge to 10th in the table.
Olsen also faces stiff competition for the right-wing spot in this 4-2-3-1 in the shape of Riccardo Orsolini who finished the season as Bologna’s top goalscorer (scoring 10 goals across all competitions). Considering the recent signing of Nicola Sansone on loan suggests there is also stiff competition for the attacking slot on the left as well. Even up front, despite his relatively low output, Federico Santander put up pretty good numbers, averaging over three shots per 90 and in decent positions as well which doesn’t suggest Olsen’s come in as an immediate replacement.
This competition places all the onus on Olsen to ultimately command a starting spot in this side and will force the youngster to adapt quickly and improve his game with urgency. There’s no reason to suggest that he won’t eventually (if not quickly) displace one of Orsolini or Santander but the youngster will certainly have to earn his place.
Bologna struggled for goals last season and weren’t exactly impressive at the back either so they will need a more complete package from Olsen. This is not outside of Olsen’s capabilities however and if he can produce a similar statistical output this coming season, then the young Dane could easily add another 10-15 goals to this struggling side already which could place the Red and Blues in contention for European qualification.
Even considering the holes in his game, Olsen’s upsides and sky-high ceiling mean this is an outstanding coup for Bologna. At only five million Euros, Bologna could sell the boy tomorrow for more than double the price they paid for him and even if Olsen manages only a relatively average season compared to his last, his value will quickly skyrocket.
Sounding humble upon his introduction to the Bologna faithful, Olsen appears rather aware of the fact that there’s still a lot of work ahead of him and this played a factor in considering his next move. This suggests Olsen is in exactly the right headspace to adapt and develop his game in a more competitive league where his natural progression is to develop into one of Europe’s elite goalscorers.
This tactical analysis leaves me in no doubt that Olsen will quickly adapt to his new surroundings and prove to be an invaluable asset to this growing Bologna side. This scout report will soon be one of many on this impressive youngster and I’m sure it won’t be long before Olsen is once again on the move to better and brighter places.
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