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Kasper Dolberg: Ajax's Lethal Weapon Who Might Well End Up At United

Kasper Dolberg: Ajax's Lethal Weapon Who Might Well End Up At United
By Gavan Casey Updated

Though sport is doubtless playing second fiddle to the atrocity which befell Manchester on Monday night, tonight's Europa League final perhaps takes on added significance for Manchester United in that it's no longer simply about Champions League qualification or 'winning a trophy'; United are representing a city - their city - which is currently in mourning.

It's certainly an added pressure, but José Mourinho's men have been preparing for the fixture since bizarrely throwing their hat at the league a few weeks back, and will have done plenty of homework on Ajax's young up-and-comers in the lead-up.

One such star whom United scouts are already very much aware of is striker Kasper Dolberg, whose 23 goals in 47 appearances during his debut season in Amsterdam have expedited his route to becoming one of the hottest properties in football.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL3kuYsL1o8

Who is Kasper Dolberg?

Name: Kasper Dolberg Rasmussen
Age: 19
Born: Denmark
Position: Forward
Star sign: Only messing

"My goal was to play for Ajax’s reserve team, become their best player and maybe get a few matches in the first team," Kasper Dolberg told FourFourTwo at the start of this campaign.

The naivety of youth, perhaps: it took only the sale of Tinder predator Arek Milik to Napoli for Dolberg to be called upon to fill the Pole's boots in Ajax's starting XI, and the potentially great Dane hasn't checked his rear-view since.

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Spotted at hometown club Silkeborg IF by John Steen Olsen, the scout who discovered Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Christian Eriksen to name but two, Dolberg was brought on trial at Ajax back in 2015. After just one day, current Ajax Director of Football Marc Overmars informed Dolberg's agent that the club wished to sign the youngster immediately. Given Ajax's conveyor belt of Danish talent over the years, Dolberg's parents - both former professional handball players - didn't require much persuasion.

It was a massive leap for the painfully shy Dolberg who, when he was 12, had returned to his local club Voel after initially being recruited by big-town boys Silkeborg.

As per The Guardian, in an interview with the Danish national broadcasters DR back in October, the softly spoken striker said he preferred “to remain in the background”. His father, Flemming Rasmussen, told Ed Aarons during the week:

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He can come across as indifferent, nonchalant or even cold but that can be deceptive. When he is on the pitch and facing competition he will think, deep down, that he will get the better of that opponent.

With regular comparisons to both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco van Basten, it's just as well he's a modest young chap.

Dolberg made his senior international debut for Denmark in November 2016 before scoring a hat-trick and an assist on his club return during Ajax's 5-0 Eredivisie win against NEC. In doing so, he became the youngest Ajax player to score three in the league since Rafael van der Vaart in 2001. He also broke van Basten's record for the club's quickest ever hat-trick.

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He also scored Ajax's crucial away goal in their 3-1 Europa League semi-final second leg defeat at Lyon, a close-range dink over an onrushing goalkeeper - not unlike Eidur Gudjohnsen's delicious finish for Chelsea at Old Trafford in 2003 - ultimately putting his side in their first European final in 20 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=watch

Personally trained by none other than Denis Bergkamp, Dolberg has been linked to United plenty over the course of this season, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out for the foreseeable future - and indeed his United career hanging in the balance - the powerfully-built Danish sensation might well fit the mould as a replacement.

Writing in The Sun yesterday, German football icon Lothar Matthaus singled Dolberg out as the danger man for United to contend with during tonight's game:

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He is a player who can make a defence crazy. He’s fast and young and I’m sure a lot of bigger clubs will be looking to sign him after the season he’s had.

Dolberg played very well in the Europa League and in the Dutch Eredivisie and if Ajax are going to win the final he is the most likely reason. Dolberg will certainly be very important and what I like is that he is not one of those forwards who waits for the ball to come his way.

He looks to go wide, never stops working and is happy to go left or right to get in the game. Dolberg is everywhere, runs a lot and changes his position, including dropping into midfield to pick up the ball. He’s very much a team player and you cannot stop him completely.

Dolberg's agent revealed to The Guardian that he's had calls from a number of top European clubs interesting in signing the 19-year-old, "especially from England." It's understood it'll take £30m or more to prize him away from Ajax, but that price might well rise unless United can keep him sufficiently under wraps tonight.

SEE ALSO: Chelsea Release Extremely Admirable Statement Announcing Cancellation Of Trophy Parade

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