Who is Yussuf Poulsen? Keita's Liverpool-supporting team-mate who wants Premier League move

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The RB Leipzig forward has repeatedly expressed a desire to move to England, but who is the Danish forward known more for tackling than goalscoring?

When RB Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl appeared on German late night chat show ARD last year, the tactician impressed viewers with his excellent piano playing. One person who was not watching was Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen, who was already in bed and missed his coach's rendition of Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy the Silence'.

Poulsen is not the type of player to while away the hours watching late night television, and is instead fully focused on becoming a better football player.  The 23-year-old has worked his way up through the divisions in Germany, joining RB Leipzig from Lyngby when the Red Bull-sponsored side were still in the third-tier.

Within three years, the Danish attacker was playing in the German top flight, helping RB Leipzig win promotion from the 3. Liga in 2014 and then the 2. Bundesliga in 2016. Just one year later, he started up front against Monaco in the Champions League.

This summer, he is set to play on the biggest stage of all, having helped Denmark qualify for the World Cup through a 5-1 aggregate play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland, where his pace caused the Boys in Green plenty of problems.

But it was Poulsen's determination which eventually proved Ireland's undoing. Stephen Ward and Robbie Brady played a one-two in the Irish half, with Poulsen forcing Ward into a mistake before laying it off to Nicolai Jorgensen who fed Christian Eriksen for Denmark's second goal in Dublin.

Poulsen is not the kind of striker who will score 20-plus goals a season and finish at the top of the goalscoring charts. Instead, he is a hard-working forward who will win the ball back in dangerous areas and quickly start attacks - similar to how Roberto Firmino works under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

When he first played with local club BK Skjold, the Copenhagen native was used as a defender or defensive midfielder. It was not until Skjold forward Kenneth Zohore (now at Cardiff City) moved to FC Copenhagen that a 13-year-old Poulsen was used in attack. He continued to play as a forward at Lyngby, making his debut with the first team at just 16.

Even then, the teenager was astute enough to realise that a career in football would not last forever, ensuring that he got his high school diploma - although his grasp of languages was not his strong suit, and needed to pick up German very quickly after moving to Leipzig, where he was just one of two foreign players.

At Lyngby, Poulsen got up for school for 8.00 in the morning and would not be back home until after 8.30 at night as he juggled his education and sporting career. He set himself the goal of moving abroad before turning 21, as he felt he could not be a Champions League player if he stayed in Denmark.

Leipzig first noticed him after he scored five goals with the Denmark Under-19 side over the course of three games in a qualifying group in Cyprus, and then he was scouted at Lyngby and again with the Denmark U-19s.

However, the move to Leipzig was met with some scorn from people in his native country, similar to the criticism Sweden's Emil Forsberg received due to the fact RB Leipzig were well outside the top tier of German football. But Poulsen knew it was the right move for him, and better still, he was aware of his own ability and potential to grow with at the club.

"It was said: 'Why does he move to the German third league? Of course, it was not a regression for me, even if the media sold it that way," Poulsen told Spox

"The mentalities in Sweden and Denmark are a bit similar: many believe that they are the best in the world. You also have to be realistic - I was just too bad for the Bundesliga. 

"And in Germany's third league there are enough clubs that could keep up with the first league in Denmark. After 15 months in Leipzig, I got my Sweden national team debut. Therefore, the change was obviously not too wrong."

 

Poulsen has progressed well at the club, but still remains cognisant of how far he has come and how far he can go. He has seen Leipzig room-mate Joshua Kimmich leave for Bayern Munich and flourish for club and country, while Naby Keita will finally seal his £48 million transfer to Liverpool this summer.

The Dane has spoken many times of his admiration for the Premier League, claiming he followed both Barcelona and Liverpool as a child. He understands that playing for Barca may be beyond his abilities, but a move to England could be an option in the future.

"When I was little, I was a Barcelona fan. You also have to be honest with yourself and know what you can and can not do. I can not play in Barcelona, maybe I will never be able to," he told kristinavomdorf.com last year.

"That's why it's not a dream to switch. As a kid, there was only the Danish or English league, that was the only thing you could watch on TV. So for me, as a kid, the biggest thing you can do is play in the Premier League."

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Recently he has been linked with Liverpool, and reiterated his desire to play in England, adding that the Reds were a team he kept an eye on when he was younger. The 6' 4" forward would have no problems adapting to the physicality of the English game, already having outmuscled and outperformed many Premier League players as Denmark dumped Ireland out of the World Cup.

"The Premier League would generally interest me. That would fit well with my game," he told Bild. "As a kid I followed Liverpool. My best friend was a fan of the club - and then you are somewhere, too."

With Keita moving to Anfield this summer, will Poulsen keep a closer eye on Klopp's side? Or perhaps even follow his former team-mate to Merseyside as a backup option to Firmino - something which would certainly be music to the ears of many Liverpool fans who just can't get enough of Leipzig's young talent.

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