Profiling Eintracht Frankfurt's dynamic Danish international
Who is Jesper Lindstrøm?
Having already surpassed last season’s goal tally of five, Jesper Lindstrøm is only getting stronger in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt. The 22-year-old was signed from Brøndby IF, for €7 million in the summer of 2021, and has been a key name on the team sheet ever since.
Under Oliver Glasner, the Dane has been trusted to fill various supporting roles up front, most often in a trio in a 3-4-3 this season. It’s of little surprise why when you see how his actions on the pitch strictly favour those of the manager’s instructions.
Jesper Lindstrøm's style of play
Lindstrøm is one of the most strategic movers you will see. His actions are entirely geared towards the system’s needs, whether that involves shifting lanes, dropping through the lines to receive, or, most commonly, making runs into depth. The fluidity to his horizontal movement in rotation with others is impressive but is outdone by the quality and volume of his vertical runs.
What makes the Dane such a threat is both the timing of his runs – he never ceases to make a move across the line when a deeper ball-holder has time to play forwards – and his phenomenal straight-line speed.
Regardless of awareness hurting his movement close to the ball, Lindstrøm can be reluctant to move short anyway which is evident in practice. In spite of the fact he can often trap the ball very well, he limits himself by taking it more on the quarter-turn rather than the half-turn. Instead of holding back his position, shaping with an open body and letting it run across him, he moves more towards the ball and kills it with a closed body.
Part of this is due to how he handles pressure: he’s very alert to his marker’s whereabouts but to the point that he distracts himself with it and doesn’t back himself in the physical contests. This skewed awareness is detrimental to how he follows up on his control, as he never has a gauge on his surroundings, resulting in blind decision-making.
The other part is his high centre of gravity, which, like his skewed awareness, has a telling impact on large parts of his game. Because of this, he struggles to change direction in time with the ball, so double movements and letting the ball run are difficult for him to accomplish. It’s particularly jarring when it comes to his dribbling as he often shifts to his left by default. This, combined with a lack of upper-body strength, means it’s also rare for him to even attempt to cut across his man.
When running at defenders, Lindstrøm is capable of centring the ball to keep both angles open but can be guilty of slightly showing his hand in the way he veers to his left, largely due to his inability to shift his body across the ball. Equally, the timing of his advancing touch past the opponent can be questionable.
As the above suggest, the 22-year-old isn’t a particularly high-volume contributor – his 26 passes per 90 in the Bundesliga and European competition over the last year ranks as low as the 4th percentile among his positional peers. That being said, what he can provide is still more than commendable.
Lindstrøm excels most in this department when receiving facing the goal, so that he doesn’t have to think about his touch. From here, he boasts the slick operation speed to quickly spot and play to team-mates in good positions, although he is quite often guilty of overcooking his pass.
Crossing is another area that can prove fruitful. Lindstrøm generates a uniquely consistent level of power and dip on his deliveries by cutting up from underneath the ball. These violently-dipping crosses are a nightmare to defend at corners and across the face of goal but appear far more one-dimensional when applied in the same manner to deliveries from elsewhere, where more softness and curl are needed.
As a goal threat, it’s typically a mixture of the system’s mechanisms combined with the aforementioned dynamism of Lindstrøm’s movement that gets him into so many great positions in the box. He’s averaged 0.63 non-penalty xG plus xA, which ranks in the 83rd percentile for those in his position.
The more interesting aspect is actually his shooting, though. From close range, the Dane’s ability to strike on sight with the inside of either boot makes for finishes that flash by. However, in less decisive situations, be it in behind or from outside of the box, he has a terrible habit for leaning back on every shot.
Given that his final setting touch isn’t the best under pressure as well, his inability to keep over the ball and to use his laces makes for some anticlimactic, ineffective finishes – either rolling slowly towards the goalkeeper or flying high and wide.
In defensive phases, Lindstrøm applies himself just as well instructionally. His speed makes for effective ground coverage that always has the potential to catch out receivers or make them hesitate, especially given the trigger-based nature of these actions. Fronting the team shape, he’s impressive moving out and moving backwards, trapping wide receivers well using spread body shapes and good angling to maximise his cover shadow.
This is not to say his technique is flawless, though. Lindstrøm’s often susceptible to approaching, either at pace or slowly, with too narrow and tentative a body shape, which makes shifting directions very difficult. Touches against the grain catch him out easily.
He also rarely scans behind him, meaning he occasionally leads a pressing charge or moves across to cover a ball-near opponent. He’s never able to foresee that balancing his position is necessary, which opens holes in the press.
On a zonal basis, Lindstrøm does a good job of narrowing his position to tighten the channels but it’s about as far deep as he goes –he doesn’t have to work box to box for the team, likely due to the extent of his athleticism and the threat of his run-making. In fact, his intensity switches on and off a lot in and out of possession. A sign in itself of his limited endurance is that he’s only lasted the full ninety in one match this season.
Forecasting Jesper Lindstrøm's future
All in all, Lindstrøm is an archetypal system player. The strengths he possesses in particular make him so well-suited to a top Bundesliga club, as Eintracht Frankfurt have been, so he has found his floor at the very least.
Heavy links to Arsenal then make plenty of sense, which is also the case because his game is easily improvable under the right coach, like Mikel Arteta, both offensively and defensively. However, if that move were to materialise, it’s hard to imagine his current level affording him more than a squad role.
Whilst stepping stones are usually advisable early in a player’s career, the fact he has already displayed a settled level at a top club and could develop further as a player makes it a more than advisable scenario in this case. It’s a decision that could sustain him at a higher level than what could maybe be expected of him.
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Jesper Lindstrøm is lightning quick runner who moves and functions endlessly in service of his team’s needs, with his ability to apply himself to those instructions making him a strong offensive and pressing threat.
Jesper Lindstrøm lacks some of the fundamental technical elements, offensively and defensively, to be a better solo ball progresser, finisher, and 1v1 defender, as well as lacking in endurance.