Analyzing New Lazio Signing Gustav Isaksen

Gustav Isaksen is from a small town called Hjerk in the northern part of Jutland. He was discovered at the age of 12 by FC Midtjylland and invited to join their excellent academy which has produced players like Simon Kjær, Pione Sisto, Winston Reid, Jonas Lössl, and Erik Sviatchenko.

The 2001-born attacker made his debut for the club in 2019-20 at the age of 18 and played 139 senior matches for the Danish club over five seasons, scoring 33 goals and providing 18 assists. He won the league title (2019-20) and Danish Cup (2021-22) one time each.

The Career & Growth of Gustav Isaksen

Back in 2016, one of the coaches at Midtjylland told Serie A Journalist Karsten Krogh:

We have a special player coming up in the youth team. The best dribbler we’ve had, apart from maybe Pione Sisto… But this guy also scores a lot of goals and has a winner’s mentality as well.

Fast forward three years, and the club defeated Manchester United 3-1 in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Youth League (UEFA Champions League for U19) – a competition in which The Wolves have had several good runs over the last ten years. Isaksen scored two brilliant goals in that match, and this could be considered his turning point, as he was certainly not unknown anymore.

Even though everyone recognized his talent, Isaksen found it rather difficult to break into FCM’s first team at the beginning. The reason? Their first team from 2019 to 2021 was the strongest they had ever been; they won the Danish title easily in 2019-20 by 14 points, qualifying for the 2020-21 edition of the UEFA Champions League.

Ahead of the 2021-22 season, Midtjylland lost a handful of key players. This allowed Isaksen to finally begin starting regularly for the first team. He scored eight goals in all competitions that season albeit being inconsistent as he tried to find his feet in the top level.

This happened in the 2022-23 campaign, where he scored 22 goals and provided nine assists in all competitions (45 appearances). Among these were two against Lazio in the Europa League, where he also drew two penalties. In addition to this, his 18 goals in the Superligaen resulted in him winning the Top Goal Scorer Award, despite FCM having a terrible season domestically.

Breaking Down Gustav Isaksen: Playing Style, Position, Strengths & Weaknesses

Isaksen is very quick on his feet, a good dribbler, a decent finisher (really improved that aspect of his game last season), and a great player on the counterattack; firstly because of his pace, and secondly because of how well he drives forward with the ball.

For about 80 percent of his career, he has played as a right winger. He can also play on the left wing, but primarily use his left foot and prefers the right flank. Additionally, he has played centrally in a two-man attack.

Unlike many other left-footed right-wingers, Isaksen’s favourite and most natural move when charging a defender is going to his right and outpacing the defender. He has gotten better at the classical move inside for a left foot shot but be prepared to see him go both ways.

However, he still has a lot to learn about decision-making, link-up play, combinations and quick short-passing. Maurizio Sarri will get a player with a lot of raw talent and speed but the Manager will need to teach Isaksen the Lazio system which is a fairly complicated way to play.

How Gustav Isaksen Fits Into Lazio & Serie A

Felipe Anderson, who was excellent last season, is still a better and much more accomplished player. He is a better finisher and makes better decisions, so will continue to start.

However, Isaksen’s raw pace and drive to constantly take on defenders will be a nuisance for Serie A defenders and challenge the Brazilian for that starting role. Furthermore, the Dane has great relationships with everyone around him, does not mind working hard, is very serious in training, and does not have a big ego.

While Lazio plays a very different system than FCM and it will take a while for Isaksen to be a functioning part of that system, he has the skills to hurt defenders from the very first day he plays.

If he settles well in Rome and inside the club, Karsten reckons he could be quite a catch for Lazio. Not a lot of players in Serie A have his particular skills; now Sarri just has to drill him into being a coherent part of his system.

Tags FC Midtjylland Gustav Isaksen Isaksen Lazio Midtjylland