In 2022, Jesper Lindstrom, a 22-year-old attacking midfielder, won the Europa League with Eintracht. He also scored Frankfurt’s first ever Champions League goal and played for Denmark at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Now, the Arsenal FC target player discusses his future with Forbes contributor Marie Schulte-Bockum.
It’s Tuesday, January 10th, 7pm local time in Dubai, when Lindstrom slides into view on my Zoom call. His club is in Dubai for their mid-season training camp. Wearing an Eintracht Frankfurt hoodie, Lindstrom sits in a nondescript hotel conference room with his back against a beige wall.
The young Dane smiles into the camera. He says he’s tired. That’s no surprise after six days of intense training in the desert city. In half an hour, at 7:30pm, he has to dash away again for a team meeting with coach Oliver Glasner. He looks happy and relaxed. The 22-year-old has plenty to be smiling about.
Arsenal, Dortmund and Leipzig want Jesper Lindstrom
Frankfurt signed Lindstrom from Danish club Brondby in the summer of 2021 for a fee of around $9 million. Since then, the attacking midfielder has scored 11 goals and provided 7 assists in 43 Bundesliga games. Lindstrom’s dynamic and technical playing style has caught the eye of Europe’s biggest clubs.
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Now valued at over $30 million by Transfermarkt, a soccer database site, few believe that Lindstrom will stay in Frankfurt until the end of his contract in 2026.
German tabloid BILD, usually well-informed in soccer, reported last September that Arsenal FC was keeping tabs on the young Dane. By October, German giants Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig reportedly joined the pursuit of Lindstrom. But the Arsenal rumours stuck. Coach Mikel Arteta has wanted a new attacking option for midfield and the wings for quite some time.
Early in January, it looked like Arsenal had found their man in Ukrainian winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, 22. Then, just as a transfer to Arsenal seemed imminent, London rivals Chelsea FC stepped in and paid a sensational fee of $76 million to Shakhtar Donezk for Mudryk’s services. (The fee could go on to exceed $100 million with performance-based add-ons.)
Denmark Star Lindstrom is Happy at Eintracht Frankfurt
Europe’s winter transfer window closes at midnight on Tuesday, January 31st. Only time will tell what that means for Jesper Lindstrom.
For now, he looks comfortable in his black Frankfurt hoodie. His eyes brighten up as he talks about famous teammates like Mario Gotze or Kevin Trapp. At Eintracht, the 22-year-old is in the starting line-up for almost every match.
As Lindstrom shares in this exclusive interview, he can imagine staying with Frankfurt for years to come.
In 2022, you won the Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt. This season, you qualified for the Champions League Round of 16 against Napoli. You’re currently 4th in the Bundesliga. What’s Frankfurt’s secret?
Lindstrom: We have a good balance between the young players and the leaders, like Kevin Trapp, Sebastian Rode, Mario Gotze and Timothy Chandler.
Us young players, we want to go forward and score goals in the game. The more experienced players always tell us, you can stay calm sometimes. Stay with the team, you can go forward when we go. They give us a lot of good advice.
These guys have a lot of experience. They help keep us young guys grounded.
Eintracht’s young generation includes French striker Randal Kolo Muani (24), Japan’s attacking midfielder Daichi Kamada (26), Swiss midfielder Djibril Sow (25) and German wing-back Ansgar Knauff (21), on loan from Dortmund. What’s your goal at Frankfurt?
Lindstrom: I want to qualify for the UEFA EFA Champions League with Eintracht again this season. And in the future, I want to become one of the best international players. And so I have to train with some of the best players to reach that level.
Look at Kolo Muani at the World Cup. He just needs to score the last shot in the final against Argentina and then he would be a hero in France. But that’s football. He’s a top guy and he’s a top player. He did so much for our team in the Bundesliga and the Champions League.
Daichi as well, Mario as well, Djibril, Ansgar … we have so many good players. They make me better and hopefully I make them better. If we keep going like this, we have a bright future ahead.
Coach Oliver Glasner led Frankfurt to the Europa League title and the Champions League Round of 16. What is it like working with him?
Lindstrom: In Denmark, they always say when you go to a foreign country, you’re on your own. That you have to be mentally strong because usually you won’t know why you don’t play.
But with Oliver Glasner, I think he’s a great coach for me. He trusts me and he gives me the chance to play regularly.
Can you give an example of Glasner’s coaching style?
Lindstrom: He is very ambitious. I’ve worked with him for a year and a half now. When we were playing against West Ham in the Europa League, I got a small injury in my hamstring. Four or five weeks later, I trained with the team again. That was one week before the Europa League final – and Glasner put me in the starting line-up in the final. He showed me that he believed in me, believed that I can turn the game to our advantage.
Another great thing about Glasner is his communication with us. When you don’t play or when you’re not even in the squad, he always talks with those players.
There are coaches who never talk with the players individually. Then the player walks around thinking, am I far away from the team? What did I do wrong since I’m not playing? Glasner always sees which players he needs to talk to.
Your contract at Eintracht runs until 2026. Will you stay in Frankfurt that long?
Lindstrom: Many people say that at some point, you have to go to a bigger club. But it’s also about the project. Anything can happen in football.
But I like it here. I think everybody likes it here. Last summer, we brought in Mario Gotze. I don’t think he would go just anywhere. So it’s a compliment for Eintracht that they can bring him or also Randal Kolo Muani and Lucas Alario onboard.
I want to make history here. Of course, everybody wants to play at the highest level, and we are on a really good path.
I am happy that I am part of the club right now.
You represented Denmark at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. What was it like playing for the national team with stars like Christian Eriksen or Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg?
Lindstrom: When you’re a kid, you always want to represent your country. Playing for your club feels very good, but it’s not the same as playing for your country, because it’s your country.
You want to show everybody what Denmark means to you. I play with guys like Christian Eriksen, Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg from Tottenham, Kasper Schmeichel, and also Andreas Christensen from Barcelona. They’re top players, but you don’t see it like this when you go to the national team. You just see them as colleagues and as friends.
Playing for the national team shows that I did something right in my past, otherwise I would not play alongside those players. At 22 years old, I played in my first World Cup and played a lot of minutes in all three games.
At the World Cup, Denmark placed last in Group D, while France and Australia went through to the knock-out stages. Were you disappointed?
Lindstrom: We all thought that in the World Cup we would reach the next round, but something was missing. We now have two years until the Euros 2024 and we have to train very hard. We want to do better in the next tournament. I will do my best to be selected for the national team again.
That will be your first Euros tournament with Denmark – and it’s happening in your current home, Germany. Will you compete for the title in 2024?
Lindstrom: I’m the type of player who always dreams big. If you don’t dream big, you never reach big goals. I have this eagerness in me that I want to win the Euros. We didn’t play well in the World Cup, but Denmark has strong players in every position.
It’s two years away, but I think we will have a good chance at the Euros. We are one of the best teams, meaning not just individual players, but as a team. We have a very good community spirit in the team and everybody fights for Denmark. So I dream big and if it goes well, we can go a long way in the tournament.
I’m happy that it is in Germany because I feel at home there now.
Who was the best player you’ve faced so far?
Lindstrom: Kylian Mbappe. He’s top level. He scored two goals against us in the World Cup, so it’s difficult to not say him.
Soccer careers are short. Most players retire between the age of 30 and 35. To secure their financial future, some players invest in property, stocks or businesses while they’re still active. Are you already thinking about investing?
Lindstrom: Of course. I talk with my agent and the people around me about money. I just bought an apartment in Denmark. I don’t really invest yet because it still feels new to me to earn money. It’s only been one and a half years since I came from Denmark to the Bundesliga.
I like to make sure my future is safe. Let’s see what happens with investments. I’m only 22 years old, so hopefully I still have many years left to play.
Eintracht Frankfurt will host Schalke this Saturday, January 21st, for their first Bundesliga match since November 2022 (Live on ESPN+ at 9:30am ET).
Lindstrom and his teammates have also qualified for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, where they will face Italian Serie A leaders Napoli on February 21st (CBS, Paramount+ and fuboTV at 3pm ET) and on March 15th (CBS, Paramount+ and fuboTV at 3pm ET).