Brentford have completed a £16.7m deal for Sampdoria midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard, with the Bees ending their search for Christian Eriksen’s replacement.
The 22-year-old midfielder has signed a contract until 2027 and becomes the club’s sixth Danish first-team player.
Brentford were looking for a new attacking midfielder after losing out on Eriksen to Manchester United this summer.
He scored twice during Denmark’s journey to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, including the defeat to England at Wembley – and has been linked with a move to the Premier League ever since.
Damsgaard ultimately stayed in Serie A but only made 11 appearances last season after suffering a problem that kept him out of 27 games, from last October until mid-April.
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank said: “Mikkel is, in my opinion, another classic Brentford signing. He is a young player with big potential to develop further. We know we can help Mikkel reach his highest level, we have the staff here that have experience in doing that and we are looking forward to working with him.
“Mikkel is a player that has shown his promise at FC Nordsaelland and Sampdoria as well as in the European Championships last summer, when he had a fantastic tournament for Denmark.
“He has been unlucky with injuries in the past year, but we have already seen that he is an extremely skilful player, who can run with the ball and move it well. He is aware of the space around him and plays on the half turn. He also wants to play forward and can do so by either passing or dribbling.”
Brentford made their initial approach for Damsgaard a week ahead of their season opener against Leicester City last Sunday, which they drew 2-2. Damsgaard caught the attention of other Premier League clubs ahead of Brentford’s accepted bid.
Frank added: “Mikkel is capable of creating and scoring goals and he has the ability to run with the ball past players. That is a great asset to have in the squad. He will create chances for us and is fantastic at getting out of tight areas with the ball, we will benefit from that.
“We think Mikkel can play as one of our ‘eights’ in a 4-3-3 system or as a ‘ten’. He can also play on the wing. We will use him in the way we think we can get the best out of his offensive abilities. Importantly, he is a player that will fit into our dressing room. He is a great character, he wants to work hard, he wants to work for the team, and he wants to develop.”
Analysis: Damsgaard move makes perfect sense for Bees
Sky Sports football journalist Sam Blitz:
If you can’t get the sorcerer, then the apprentice will have to do.
Mikkel Damsgaard’s links to Christian Eriksen go way beyond the midfielder filling in for his fellow Dane at last summer’s Euro 2020 campaign. Brentford’s newest recruit even studied Eriksen’s game during his younger years as inspiration.
“I can say that I’m inspired by him,” Damsgaard said about Eriksen last season. “Eriksen is one of the players I have looked to emulate the most. I admired him a lot when I was younger and since then, I’ve always played as a No 10.
“I took a lot of inspiration from him. I studied many details of his game and how he finds spaces. I’ve tried to include him in my game when I was little.”
Eriksen was crucial to Brentford’s Premier League survival chances last season. Brentford picked up more wins (seven) in the 10 games he started than in the 28 games he did not start (six). The Bees’ goal ratio doubled in that time and Ivan Toney’s chances available to him increased in the same way too.
Eriksen also brought a lot of joy from set-pieces, creating 17 chances from dead-ball scenarios last season for the Bees and Damsgaard can bring all of his compatriot’s skills with him. England fans will remember him scoring a wonderful free-kick in the Euro 2020 semi-finals at Wembley, for example.
Damsgaard’s year since last summer’s tournament has not gone to plan with a mysterious illness, with his agent claiming it was some form of arthritis, but as Eriksen showed last season, previous medical history is not considered a hindrance at Brentford.
He could make his Brentford debut against Eriksen’s United this Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, in what could be the battle of the Danish creative fulcrums.
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