At the start of this week, PSV Eindhoven clinched the signing of one of Denmark’s hottest properties, 17-year-old right-winger Nikolai Laursen arrived at the Philips Stadion from Brøndby. To get the scoop on this new star in the making, we asked Brondby fan and Russian Football News chief editor (even though he’s Danish), Toke Møller Theilade to tell us all about him in this excellent article. Read on…
When Nikolai Laursen got his debut for Brøndby in a cup game against Fremad Amager last autumn, he became the youngest ever debutant of the club with his only 16 years and 252 days. Despite his young age it was obvious for the 4,745 spectators at Sundby Idrætspark in Copenhagen, that the young Brøndby wing was something special.
The young winger was moved from Brøndby’s academy to the first team last summer and Laursen quickly realized that professional football was different from the youth football he had been used to. In an interview with Brøndby’s official website he said:
“I have realized how much hard work means, and how important it is. I have in general learned a lot and developed my game, especially my defensive game. These two things have been the biggest changes with me since I was moved to the first team.”
In 2013, Brøndby decided to invest heavily in its academy, the so-called Brøndby Masterclass, in order to keep the biggest talents at the club for a longer time. During the past years Brøndby lost several young players to foreign leagues without receiving compensations, and the club decided that this had to stop. Unlike Nicolai Boilesen, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Andreas Christensen, Markus Bay and Daniel Wass who all left Brøndby for next to nothing compared to their talent, the Danish club will actually earn €1.3 million on Nikolai Laursen. Part of Brøndby’s strategy has been to promote the biggest talents to the first team earlier than what they used to, and the case of Laursen proves how well it has worked so far.
Laursen got his Superliga debut in April against FC Vestsjælland, and it only took him five minutes before he scored his first goal, when he beautifully first timed a cross into the left corner of the goal.
The goal made him the fourth youngest player to ever score in the Danish league, just like he became the youngest player to score for Brøndby, a title he by the way took from the former Ajax player Niki Zimling.
After Laursen’s first goal, Brøndby’s sports director Per Rud was asked about his emerging star.
“He is always learning, and he is ahead of his age group. Physical he is on level with the rest of the squad, and he has some great skills with the ball. It was a delight to see him on the field. There are a lot of good players [at the academy], but he is a player we expect a lot from at the club.”
Brøndby’s supporters will be disappointed of how little they got to see Laursen before he left the club, but that they even got to see him on the first team was surprising for many. Laursen has been wanted by big clubs for a long time, and last summer he was very close to moving to German powerhouse Bayern Munich to join the slightly older Højbjerg. Bayern was however far from the only candidate to his signature with both PSV’s rivals Ajax and Liverpool being interested in his services. He did however end up signing a two year contract with Brøndby to end the rumours for a while.
As written earlier he has developed a lot in the past year, and he now feels ready to take the step to a bigger club.
“I feel like the time has come to test my talent at a big European club,” Laursen said “and at PSV Eindhoven I get the opportunity to take the next step in my career. I am deeply grateful for everything I have learned at Brøndby, and I could not have wished for a better football school, just like I will never forget my debut at Brøndby Stadion and the greeting the fans gave me. I want to thank everybody in the sporting sector that made this possible for me, and I hope to one day return home, because Brøndby will always be my club.”
At PSV, Laursen will join Lasse Askou Mikkelsen and Mathias Bonde who he knows from the Danish U/17 national team, and this might not be a coincidence. In an interview with the Danish website D’Bold Bonde revealed that he had recommended PSV to his friend. Bonde also promised to help Laursen settle in Eindhoven.
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