Mikkel Kaufmann is a 19-year-old forward who plays for Copenhagen in the Danish Superliga. The young attacker began his professional career with fellow Superliga club Aalborg, making his debut as a 17-year-old in August 2018. Kaufmann impressed in his first season and a half in the first team, scoring nine goals in 26 appearances. This was enough to seal a €3m move to Copenhagen in January 2020.
This scout report will present a tactical analysis of Kaufmann and how he has contributed to his team’s success this season. The analysis will pay particular attention to his aerial ability and dynamism as well as what he may have to improve on to get to the next level.
As the image on the left shows, Copenhagen prefer to play in a 4-4-2 formation for most of their league matches. When using this formation, Kauffman (#29), is deployed as one of the two forwards. On occasions, especially when playing in European competition, they change tactics and play in a 4-2-3-1. Kaufmann has been used as a right forward when playing in this system.
As shown on the heatmap on the right, almost all of Kaufmann’s touches occur in the opponent’s half of the pitch with the majority occurring in central areas around the penalty box. So far this season, he has averaged 6.38 touches inside the penalty box per game. This is the highest in the league.
Kaufmann featured in all his team’s six opening league matches. In his last appearance, his only start, he was sent off for two bookable offences. So far he has averaged 2.35 shots at goal per 90 min with 57.14% of them being on target. Although he is yet to score this season, he has an xG of 0.85, one the highest in the league.
In addition to his shooting statistics, his passing quality also looks impressive. With a forward passing accuracy of 71%, he, again, is amongst the best in the league for an attacker.
At 6ft2, one of Kaufmann’s main attributes is his ability to win headers in the air. His ability in aerial duals allows him to compete for both long, high balls up the pitch and crosses in the opposition penalty box. Kaufmann being able to win the ball from goal kicks and clearances gives his team a different option if they are being pressed high in their own third. This section, however, is going to focus on how he gets himself on the end of aerial crosses to create goal-scoring opportunities.
The above image shows the moments before Kaufmann gets on the end of a cross from the right wide area. Whilst his height and athleticism certainly help, in this situation, and many others, it is his movement and desire to win the header that earns him a shot at goal.
As the ball gets played out wide by his centre-mid, Kaufmann (circled), makes his first movement away from the ball. This movement moves the back four away from the ball, leaving space at the front post area. This gives somewhere for his teammate to aim the cross and for Kaufmann to attack.
Before the ball has left his teammate’s foot, Kaufmann makes a darting run in front of the left-back (circled). Because of the angle of his first movement, the left-back is unable to keep an eye on both Kaufmann and the ball. This means when Kaufmann runs across the left-back, he is taken by surprised and is flat-footed. Kaufmann wins the header and creates a shot at goal.
In addition to his movement and bravery in these situations, the power he can create on his headers makes them all the more threatening. Even from crosses near the edge of the box, he is able to create enough power on them to trouble the goalkeeper.
He could, however, improve on both the accuracy of his headers and his decision-making. There are times when, for example, heading the ball back across the goal towards a teammate would be the better option than shooting.
Although Kaufmann is good at getting on the end of crosses and could be utilised as a target man, there is a whole lot more to his game. The intensity that he presses, his ability to dribble and his physical strength and speed when he is on the ball gives him a dynamism that makes him so hard to play against.
The above image shows the moments after he has pressed his oppositions backline, causing confusion and eventually winning the ball. As he begins dribbling at pace towards goal, he is sandwiched by two opposition players. Despite the close attention of the two defenders, Kaufmann both out-powers them and keeps control of the ball, which results in a shot at goal.
This is a good example of when his sheer tenacity has made something out of nothing.
A big part of Kaufmann’s game that needs improvement if he is to progress to the next level in his career is his decision making in front of goal. As analysed in the previous section, he often does well to create opportunities for himself, but too often these are squandered.
The above image shows a typical scenario where Kaufmann has picked the wrong option after a good bit of play. Here, Kaufmann ran onto a pass in the wide area, dribbled past the first defender and drove into the box where he was confronted by a second defender.
At this point, with a very narrow view of the goal, Kaufmann elected to shoot instead of passing to a supporting teammate (circled). With little chance of scoring from this angle, a cut-back or a pass into the back post area for his teammate to run onto would have been the better option.
In other situations, he tends to snatch at shots when he could either show a little bit more composure or find a teammate in a better position. Whilst a certain amount of single-mindedness is desirable in a forward, unfortunately, at the moment his is not justified by his goalscoring rate.
Kaufmann is an athletic, dynamic young player that can play several roles within a team. These attributes are complemented well by his work rate and his ability to create opportunities through his physical strength and desire. Whilst his decision making in front of goal needs improving, he is not unlike many young players in this regard.
At 19, Kaufmann is one of the youngest attacking players to be playing regularly in one of Scandinavia’s top leagues and is one to keep an eye on for the future. With his physical characteristics and playing style, it would not be a surprise to see him star in the EFL or EPL in years to come.