Denmark Under-21 star Mikkel Duelund has said that he draws his inspiration from Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho and Real Madrid star Isco.
The 20-year-old has been in explosive form for Midtjylland in the Danish top flight and his efforts were recently recognised as he was nominated for the Golden Boy 2017 award, which was ultimately won by Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe.
Nevertheless, to be recognised among such company is testimony to his potential, while he has proven himself a talent for the present day by scoring five and creating seven in his team’s last six matches.
Given the players that he seeks to replicate, it is little wonder he has such impressive offensive numbers.
“I take most of my inspiration from Coutinho and Isco when I watch football on TV. They are truly great players in great leagues,” he told Goal.
“They play in my position, and they both play it the way I want to do. They are so talented, clever, creative - and deadly decisive in matches. And then they make the game beautiful to watch.”
It is not just in Denmark he is receiving recognition, though – with the Under-21 side he has earned the title of ‘assist king’ as he has been so decisive for the team that have scored more than any other as they attempted to secure European Championship qualification. Indeed, coming into this break, he had five decisive passes – two more than any other player in the tournament.
“Somebody called me ‘the assist king’ of the tournament so far, and that’s nice to hear,” the man named Teenager of the Year in his homeland said.
“I am a midfielder, but I am also the kind of player who’s always trying to get myself into the decisive areas of the pitch, giving assists for others and scoring goals myself. I have always been a goal scorer from midfield.”
Indeed, with the Under-19 side, he netted 13 times in 10 games – a better average than players such as Michael Laudrup and Jon Dahl Tomasson, two legends of the game in his homeland.
“It will be difficult to copy my stats from U19 in the U21s, but I will try - right now I am having a lot more assists than before,” he said.
He has previously turned down overtures from big foreign clubs but believes that the time might be right to move on soon.
“I chose to sign a new contract in 2016 with Midtjylland to develop myself at the highest Danish senior level instead of ending up in an U19 team of a big club in a big league, but now I feel that I am getting closer to the right timing for the next step - a move abroad,” he admitted.
“I take it step by step, and my biggest ambition is one day to play for a big club in one of the top five leagues. It is probably not my next step, which should be to a better league than the Danish.
“I am patient, and football is all about always developing yourself, always working hard to achieve your goals - but I also start to feel ready to move abroad.
“My season started a bit slow with a late return from the European U21 Championship, then an injury, and then the coach changed the tactics and the formation of the team, and did not use me for a while. Now I am back with goals and assists and feeling more mature in my game and simply better than ever - as the stats prove.”