Scouting Europe: Andreas Cornelius and the Best Young Prospects in Denmark

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IApril 4, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Andreas Cornelius #11 of Denmark celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick agianst Mexico during the second half of an international friendly match at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 30, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico and Denmark ended in a 1-1 draw.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As a footballing nation, Denmark tend to be viewed as a plucky, spirited unit, generally present at major tournaments with a squad often boasting one or two elite names.

Despite an especially daunting group at Euro 2012, the Danes still mustered a shock win against the Netherlands and ran Portugal close in a 3-2 defeat.

In the past eight years they hold victories over Germany, England, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden, and—of course—hold a major international honour with their Euro 1992 crown.

Despite a relatively small pool of resources to draw upon, the immediate future appears bright for Denmark. Several of their youth teams have recently enjoyed unprecedented success, and it seems a fresh wave of talented youngsters will soon be emerging to claim the spotlight.

Some of these future stars have already departed their home nation for the bright lights of Europe. Christian Eriksen is already a household name at Ajax, while the likes of Viktor Fischer, Lucas Andersen, Frederik Sorensen, Jannik Vestergaard and Kenneth Zohore are growing in prominence all the time.

But what about that talent that remains in Danish football, as yet untouched by European sides? Here's a look at three of the best domestic prospects perhaps on the cusp of stepping into the big time.


Andreas Cornelius

Very quickly Cornelius has emerged as the new darling of Danish football. Thrust into the Copenhagen starting lineup this year, the 20-year-old has been scoring for fun, with 17 goals in 25 league games.

His form earned him a call-up to his national side, which Cornelius marked with a goal in his country's recent away win in the Czech Republic.

On the field, standing at 6'4", he's a huge presence and a hard man to outdo in the air. Statistically, only four strikers (from the 56 teams in the Europa League) average more aerial duel wins per game during this year's competition (via WhoScored), highlighting his dominance in this department.

Heading and hold-up play are certainly central facets of his play. However, Cornelius offers far more to be simply bracketed as a target man.

He has a decent touch for his size, can be nimble at times and isn't opposed to dribbling at centre-backs. He has a powerful left-foot shot and is capable of scoring a wide array of contrasting finishes.

Arsenal are already rumoured to be keen (via the Metro), with many others supposedly watching. Look for Cornelius to be one of the next Danish stars to leave his homeland and arrive at a major European team soon.


Jores Okore

Born in the Ivory Coast, 20-year old Jores Okore is a centre-back who's come through the ranks at Nordsjaelland. 

His main attribute is his considerable strength, which sees him out-muscle even the most powerful of forwards. He also reads the game exceptionally well, has pace, is highly skilled in the challenge area and is comfortable bringing the ball out of defence.

This season he experienced his first taste of Champions League football in a challenging group alongside Juventus, Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk. While his team struggled, Okore only enhanced his reputation, at times bullying the likes of Mirko Vucinic and Fernando Torres.

In recent years, Denmark have been producing some impressive talent at centre-back, but the rapidly improving Okore appears the most exciting prospect of all—already collecting 5 international caps, despite his tender age.

His game very clearly suits the Premier League, and it would't be surprising to see him appearing at a top English club in the next few years.


Nicklas Helenius

Another striker turning heads in his homeland is 21-year-old Nicklas Helenius.

As with Cornelius, the Aalborg front-man is a giant on the pitch, standing at 6'5", but is perhaps more adept with the ball on the ground.

He boasts impressive pace, has deceptively quick feet for his height and is skilled in his hold-up play, rarely being dispossessed.

Helenius is currently on the fringes of the Danish national side, having won a couple of caps after being a consistent scorer for the Under-21s.

This season he has 11 goals in 25 games and has supposedly drawn the attention of several top clubs, including Chelsea, Wolfsburg and Manchester City (via Sky Sports).