Kasper Dolberg: The man to ruin Manchester United's Europa League dreams?

Kasper Dolberg: The man to ruin Manchester United's Europa League dreams?

Ahead of Wednesday night's UEFA Europa League Final in Stockholm on Wednesday night, Ajax's rising Danish star could yet scupper José Mourinho's route back into the Champions League next season.

neil-leverett
Neil Leverett

After an exhaustive campaign in the UEFA Europa League, Joée Mourinho's European voyage comes to a climax in Sweden on Wednesday night, as Manchester United meet AFC Ajax in a clash of former European giants at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Standing in the path of the Red Devils lifting their first-ever - formerly named UEFA Cup - lie Peter Bosz's Dutch maestros. 

De Godenzonen have themselves rediscovered their place in European competition this season with a young, exuberant, but above all hugely talented side. But it is one man who is lighting up the continent, who may become spoiler-in-chief for United. 

Kasper Dolberg, at the relatively precocious age of 19 years old will compete in his first major final on Wednesday, after a campaign where the cream of Europe have been forced sit up and take note of the burgeoning Danish international forward.

Dolberg emergence

Whilst many were still firmly in holiday mode at the height of last summer, Ajax were busy in qualification for the UEFA Champions League.

Despite the Dutch side being soundly eliminated and relegated to European football's secondary competition, Dolberg was already making waves.

This past season, the Dane scored 16 goals for the Eredivisie club, including six en route to the showpiece finale in Sweden. It is perhaps only in the knockout stages where his presence has been felt.

In the last 16 clash with club of his birth land FC Copenhagen, Dolberg scored the vital away goal which set up the platform for Ajax's 2-0 home aggregate victory at the Amsterdam Arena one week later.

Then in a wildly open semi-final meeting with Olympique Lyonnais, Kasper Dolberg led the line with aplomb versus Les Gones, scoring home and away.

Bergkamp influence

For a player still in his teens, many have drawn comparisons to former legends of the game, both of whom starred in the red of white of the former European champions.

Dolberg has been spoken in the same breath as Dutch legends Marco van Basten, but also the man who has taken him under his wing, former Arsenal magician Dennis Bergkamp.

In his capacity as assistant coach at the club, the player dubbed 'the iceman' has coached Dolberg since his switch from hometown club Silkeborg FC in January 2015.

Having been spotted by Ajax's chief scout that brought the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Christian Eriksen to the club, Dolberg has become the talk of Dutch football.

For a club with a rich history of bringing through Danish players in their ranks, current director of football Marc Overmars knew he had watched a special prodigy the first time he saw him, which prompted a move from Ajax 18 months ago.

Dane to pierce Red devils?

With not just a Europa League trophy up for grabs but a place in next season's Champions League at stake, it is very much double jeopardy in the Swedish capital on Wednesday night.

For a normally water-tight Red Devil defence, the task of repelling Ajax becomes all the more stern without the services of the mountainous Eric Bailly who was dismissed versus Celta Vigo in the semi-final second leg at Old Trafford.

The Dutch side that boast vim in their ranks, but also a attacking arc with the likes of Amin Younes, Kamil Ziyech and Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore are pinpointed by the talent of Kasper Dolberg. It is a four-pronged threat that Jose Mourinho and Manchester United must be acutely aware of, if they are to enjoy another might of European glory.  

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