He is a very level-headed almost cold young man, who pays attention and works hard. He also has great confidence. These are his first approaches to top level football, but it seems to me he has the right characteristics for an important future. – Luigi Delneri
Before the transfer window closed, Juventus announced the signing of a young Danish defender. Aged just eighteen, Frederik Sorensen was essentially signed for the Primavera or youth team. Very few Juve fans took note of this signing and fewer expected anything concrete from this move. Sorensen was yet to play a first team match for Lyngby, the Danish club from where he was signed on loan. It was reported that chief scout Fabio Patarici was interested in signing the player when former was at Sampdoria. At that time, Sorensen’s move collapsed but Patarici finished his transfer after joining Juve. At least four or five players are newly signed for Academy teams every year – most players don’t make it to Juve first team. There was little to suggest that Sorensen would not turn into another such player.
Making a Name for Himself
Frederik Sorensen’s debut was unexpected and a major surprise. Against Cesena, Gigi Delneri was dreadfully short on defenders, with both Legrottaglie and Chiellini ruled out. Unexpectedly, Delneri started the match with Sorensen partnering Leonardo Bonucci. Months back, Sorensen was still practicing his trade in the obscurities of Danish youth football – his life changed dramatically as he suddenly found himself playing a senior Serie A game for one of the most famous clubs in the world. For the first few minutes, he looked dazed and visibly nervous, which was natural as even Pele felt dazed and confused when he lined up against Lev Yashin in 1958. Sorensen was part of a backline with three Italian players and an Italian goal-keeper, speaking in a language which he didn’t understand. Lack of communication was all too apparent in first few minutes as Juve conceded an early goal to Luis Jiminez. Sorensen slowly settled into his role as the match wore on, putting in a solid performance in second half.
Sorensen deserves more time on the football pitch.
The young Dane made his debut, as a right-back, against AS Roma and impressed instantly. He kept fellow Scandinavian John Arne Riise in control for large periods, denting Roma’s threat on the wings. His good performances continued with a stellar show against Domenico Criscito. Sorensen’s calm and collected approach to defending often covered up for the fact that he was a very, very young player. He was rarely prone to rash challenges – something characteristic to both Motta and Martin Caceres, two young Juve right-backs in recent times. Sorensen’s best Juve game came in a crunch match against Lazio. Mauro Zarate, in peak form before that match, was moved towards the right flank by Eddie Reja to exploit Sorensen’s inexperience. This move completely backfired as Sorensen kept a tight leash on the Argentine thereby blunting Lazio’s attacking moves.
Sorensen’s bad times started, along with rest of the team, with the calamitous Parma match. After Felipe Melo’s sending off, Juve’s defence was overran and Sorensen’s shortcomings were exposed. Sebastian Giovinco with his pace and trickery troubled him as Parma ran out 4-1 winners. He was very shaky against Bari in the next match and was subbed after an hour – second consecutive match in which he had to be replaced mid-way. His performance did improve against Internazionale as he assisted Alessandro Matri’s winner with a neat cross. For last few matches, he has lost his first team slot to Marco Motta.
Sorensen as a Player
In Frederik Sorensen, Juventus has unearthed a player with immense potential. Over the last decade, Juve has rarely found young, unproven players and turned them into class players. During Luciano Moggi’s reign, Juve bought the best and most suitable players available, while after his era Juve has mostly embarrassed itself in transfer market. Sorensen shows an encouraging sign about a change in that trend.
Sorensen’s strongest points are his technique and mental calmness. Being a natural centre-back, he is extremely cautious with his tackles and rarely commits unnecessary fouls. Standing 1.93 meters, he is one of the tallest players in Juventus squad. For a player of Sorensen’s height, it can get extremely difficult to recover from a missed sliding tackle. However, Sorensen rarely goes for sliding tackles, and instead relies on his physical structure to block and push forwards off the ball. Another curious thing is how early he tries to shut down opponent players – he often intercepts players near the half line, constantly heckling them. The Dane is also physically agile and usually wins aerial battles.
An often overlooked feature of Sorensen’s game is his powerful throw-ins. If properly groomed, his throws can become an important part in Juve’s often insipid set-piece play. For a player of his age, Sorensen is a surprisingly cool customer. His mental calmness coupled with sound technique has seen him gather just one yellow card in fourteen Juventus matches. Compare this to Marco Motta’s stats – seven yellow cards and one red card in twenty-one matches.
His biggest weakness is momentary lapses in concentration. There have been cases when he has failed to mark his man towards the end of a match. He failed to pick up Sergio Pellisier in the away game against Chievo, leading to a late equalizer. He committed the same mistake against Samuel Eto’o, despite playing an otherwise excellent game.
Marco Motta’s defending, on a normal day
Being a natural centre-back, Sorensen has struggled to perform attacking duties as right-back. He rarely ventures forward during matches, often isolating Milos Krasic on the right wing. His passing is not up to the mark as he tends to misplace his passes often. Sorensen deals capably with central players deployed as wingers (Eto’o or Zarate) but struggles against the pace of proper wingers (Giovinco and Alvarez).
Sorensen has few basic flaws in terms of technique – the flaws that he has can be ironed out with more time. He did show encouraging signs of improvement in the attacking department in last few matches.
Sorensen is currently on a twelve month loan at a measly amount of 20,000 Euros. If Juventus want to buy him permanently then they need to pay 130,000 Euros to Lyngby. Sorensen’s price tag is almost a steal when one considers his potential, and Juventus board should not think twice before signing the Dane.
The club needs to make sure that he is not loaned out to a Serie B club next summer with ridiculous co-ownership clauses slapped on him. He needs to stay in Juventus and play first team football, perhaps playing as third choice centre-back ahead of Barzagli. In Juventus, even if Sorensen doesn’t play regularly, he will get opportunity to train with Del Piero, Buffon and Chiellini.
Gigi Delneri has a part to play here as well. One of the biggest positives of his tenure has been how he motivated players like Melo. He needs to inject the same level of confidence and motivation into Sorensen. There is very little chance that Marco Motta will be a Juventus player in future; ergo, playing him ahead of Sorensen doesn’t benefit Juve. Moreover, it’s not as if Motta’s performances have been good – he is yet to play a match in which he doesn’t look like a catastrophe in the making.
Sorensen at eighteen became a regular first teamer for a club which has a track record of giving few chances to young players, let alone non-Italian ones. He needs more playing time, not Marco Motta or Grygera.
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