Kasper Dolberg in action for Ajax; credits Ajax.nl
What Dolberg does best
Kasper Dolberg has made a name for himself by cementing his place in the Ajax side at the tender age of 19 and is a typical dutch number 9 in how he functions.
He plays the lone striker role very well and a lot of the build up from Ajax is to try to get the ball into his feet, from where he can be deadly in setting up his team-mates.
Where he differs from a lot of number 9’s is how he tries to avoid being directly marked until the last moment, which helps create space in front to receive.
He did this excellently in the build up to Ajax’s first goal against ADO Den Haag recently, assisting Hakim Ziyech’s goal with outstanding centre forward play.
Dolberg here comes out of the shadow of his defender brilliantly so as not to be easily marked
With Ajax occupying the ADO Den Haag defence with four attackers in the ‘hot zone’ they are able to penetrate in behind once Dolberg manipulates the ball as he does so well
With Ziyech now running off the back of his marker, the left-sided attacking midfielder is put through on goal to finish with ease
Sometimes though, he will need to be facing forwards to be a more regular goal scorer rather than a supplier, and his previous goal drought could be down to having his back to goal too often.
He is still young and will no doubt learn to mix his game up to keep defenders guessing and with Dennis Bergkamp as his mentor, you can bet he will mature into an even better centre forward.
Which begs the question, is he capable to make the step up to England like his fellow Dane Christian Eriksen?
Time will tell, although Eriksen had amassed over 160 appearances by the time he left Ajax for Spurs at 21 years old, with more than 20 of those appearances coming in The Champions League.
I feel Dolberg has the qualities, although another Dane is currently out scoring him in the Eredivisie, Nicolai Jorgensen of Feyenoord.
Penetrating runs would reap rewards
To be considered a reliable centre forward at the highest level, Dolberg needs to be a more regular scorer, and I feel some tweaking of his runs would help.
In the current Ajax system, with inverted wingers often driving inside with the ball, he should be making diagonal darting runs into the box, although too often he supports behind the ball.
As Ajax winger Amin Younes cuts inside, Dolberg needs to make a diagonal run across the central defender
Dolberg still has the time to make the run…
Instead he supports behind the ball and another opportunity to get a strike at goal is missed
If I was coaching Dolberg I would make him aware he does a fantastic job in building play in the middle third, although in the final third he must try to be facing the opponent’s goal more often and break defensive lines with his runs.