Fulham may have got relegated from the Premier League in the 2020/21 season, but Joachim Andersen was definitely not a Championship-level player.
That was the general consensus in English football following Andersen’s impressive loan spell at Craven Cottage.
And Crystal Palace agreed; acquiring the Danishman’s services for a reported fee of around £15 million.
Whilst many would consider that a relatively small fee, by Crystal Palace’s standards, this was a fairly large outlay on just one player. In fact, the fee paid makes Joachim Andersen their 6th most expensive player ever, and it represented the faith that the board and Patrick Vieira had in the centre-back.
Fast-forward to just over a year later, and it’s evident that Palace have got themselves an absolute gem of a centre-back. A centre-back who makes the pressures of the modern game look easy.
The most prevalent of which is his ability to play out from the back and progress the ball up the pitch through his passing range.
He is one of the most effective long passers of the ball in the league.
In fact, according to FBREF.com Joachim Andersen completed more long passes (518) than any other Premier League player in the 2021/22 campaign. His completion rate of 66% is respectable, especially for a centre-back – particularly when you take into account the number of long passes he attempts per game.Embed from Getty Images
He doesn’t aimlessly clear the ball upfield but rather aims to pick out specific teammates in open space. Perhaps, this is why he averages 0.6 key passes per game according to SofaScore.com. That is very, very impressive for a centre-back, especially when that centre-back plays for a side that does not necessarily dominate possession.
Wilfried Zaha may be the talisman, but Andersen is the man who, in many cases, is responsible for starting counter-attacks and putting the opposition’s defenders under pressure, And he does all this from the opposite end of the pitch.
However, Andersen is not just limited to long passing – his all-around ball-playing ability is very impressive. In total, he completed approximately 82.5% of all his passes, with that figure rising to just over 88% when focusing on short passes. Suggesting that Andersen also has the ability to retain possession of the ball when he is being pressured by the opposition in his own final third.
Crystal Palace vs Arsenal
We only have to look at Andersen’s most recent performance in the Premier League, a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal, to see just how good Dane’s passing is.
He found both Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew with ease, and despite winning the game 2-0, Arsenal were not comfortable in that second half, and Joachim Andersen is the reason why. As the saying goes, Andersen was not playing long balls, but rather, long passes.
According to Sqwauka.com, Andersen registered 91 completed passes, with 12 of those being considered long passes. And it was those long passes that caused Arsenal problems throughout the second half.
He was essentially operating as a deep-lying playmaker from the centre-back position and was at the heart of everything good that Palace did. If he were not involved in this fixture, Crystal Palace might have been taken to the sword by Arsenal. His passing range allowed The Eagles to gain territory and control in the game, and for a while, he was partly responsible for them having Arsenal pinned in their own half.
He was more than deserving of being on the winning side that night, and despite conceding two goals, was arguably the best player on the pitch.
I am a big fan of Joachim Andersen, and at 26 years of age, he still has plenty of time to improve further.
Could we see Joachim Andersen at a ‘Big Six’ club in the near future?
If he continues to improve at the rate he has done so far, I believe it is a very real possibility.
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