From one Dane to another - Askou hopeful City newboy can thrive with Canaries
- Credit: Jason Dawson
Jens Berthel Askou understands the transition that new Norwich City signing Jacob Sorensen is about to make.
Via a two-year spell in Turkey, Askou also embarked on the same path less travelled, from Danish football and into the intensity and expectation of the English divisions.
After leaving Carrow Road in 2011, Askou returned to his native country before eventually signing for Esbjerg in 2013.
Despite an injury-plagued time at the club, Askou watched Sorensen in close quarters and believes he has the physical capabilities of adapting to life in the Championship.
“The intensity, the physical level in Denmark is higher than maybe Sweden or Norway,” Askou said.
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“In that respect it is similar to England but of course in the Championship the tempo and the overall level is higher. No doubt about that but it is not two different worlds or he will get a big shock.
“What it takes to cut it in England are some of the things you need to be able to do at the highest level in Denmark.
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“At a young age he has many of those assets, so now it is about how fast he adapts to the tempo and the Norwich style. And how much time the manager will give him.”
The Canaries have pinpointed Sorensen as a first-team addition, with Daniel Farke stating that they bought the Danish midfielder to help improve their physicality in midfield.
Askou believes the 22-year-old is proof that Denmark does possess homegrown talent capable to playing on the biggest stages in world football.
What has pushed Sorensen further than others in the Superliga is his mentality - which Askou says will help him thrive in England, when the spotlight is constant.
“I wasn’t a player with a high profile when I left Denmark. There is a young player at Barnsley (Mads Andersen) and I am really happy that Jacob gets this opportunity.
“He will surprise a lot of people because he has a strong mentality and that is one of the most important things to cut it in England.
“You come under a lot of pressure from team-mates, opponents, and the fans. The tone is much more direct at times. He is coming to a club where there has been good times and also some disappointing years.
“The expectations are high at Norwich and I think that will suit him because he has experience of that.”
Lungi, as the midfielder is known is Denmark, has played four seasons for Esbjerg, including an impressive campaign in 2018/19 which saw the club qualify for the Europa League - but they were knocked out at the second qualifying stage.
Plenty of praise has arrived for City’s latest recruit for his mentality and calm manner - but that doesn’t mean he lacks ambition, insists Askou.
“You have to be able to handle what comes when, for example, fans are back in the stadium.
“There is huge interest in Norwich as a club.
“If you are influenced by outside things it can mess up your performance. He is a cool guy from a part of Denmark where you are a little bit more relaxed, maybe less emotional.
“He is confident but not cocky and easy-going. A good personality to deal with everything that is coming his way. Which is a bigger than he is used to.”
But City supporters will be keen to know whether their club’s new addition can impact the side from the off - and Askou believes he can take his chance with the Canaries. “It is hard to say,” Askou said. “I think eventually he will get a chance and then it is up to him. To do well and perform. Sometimes it goes fast in football.
“It depends how (Daniel) Farke sees him. Whether he is one who perhaps can make an impact from the beginning or maybe he needs six to 12 months to get used to the tempo. I feel he has many of the qualities you need to perform in England.
“He has made some fast steps in Denmark from his debut at Esbjerg to being a key player.”
The former defender, currently managing HB Thorshaven in the Faroe Islands, was the last Dane to represent the Canaries and admits it’s special for the latest to be someone he’s watched develop.
“I wasn’t aware there hadn’t been a Dane since (me). Especially a kid who I have seen grow a little bit. I know how much it means to him. I think it is fantastic for another Dane to get this experience.
“It has developed so much since I was there but still with the same loyal fans and owners. I hope he can help them back to the Premier League, which is not easy.”