Top Ad
I DIG Radio
Listen live to the best music from around the world!
I DIG Style
Learn about the latest fashion styles and more...

March's U23 hotlist: Denmark striker Hojlund leads the way

Written by 
Published in Soccer
Friday, 31 March 2023 16:58

Welcome to the ESPN FC hotlist, which each month highlights some of the most in-form talent aged 23 or under across Europe.

Generally, young but established stars like Manchester City's Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham or Barcelona's Gavi aren't included -- otherwise they'd be on the list every month -- but we'll shine a light on some of those who deserve praise for their performances and who could potentially be European football's next big name.

This month, we have both league and international football to take into consideration.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Domestic leagues

Gift Orban, 20, striker, Gent

One of the most remarkable stories in European football of recent times, the Nigerian gives the expression "hit the ground running" a whole new meaning. Having spent a season in the second tier of Norwegian football (prior to that he played as an amateur in Nigeria), Orban joined Belgian side Gent for €3.3 million in January.

Since then he's scored 12 goals in 10 official outings for his new club, of which seven came in March. If those numbers weren't impressive enough, he has also registered 1.6 key passes per 90 minutes and the way he's executed his goals have been varied and occasionally spectacular. He scored the quickest hat trick in the history of UEFA club competition when netting three times in four minutes against Istanbul Basaksehir.

Jeremie Frimpong, 22, right-back/wing-back, Bayer Leverkusen

Already one of Leverkusen's standout performers this season, Frimpong has been in great form since the turn of the year. Not only was he MVP in the 4-1 home win against Hertha Berlin -- he registered a goal and assist from his wide position -- but also equipped himself well in the 2-1 win against Bayern Munich two weeks later.

In addition to his excellent dribbling (5.5 progressive carries per 90 minutes), acceleration, crossing skills and knack of getting into the box (seven league goals this season), the Dutchman is tenacious, determined and draws fouls. On the basis of his magnificent season, Frimpong could rightfully feel disappointed at missing out on a call-up to the Netherlands senior national team.

Lois Openda, 23, striker, Lens

Though his teammate Salis Abdul Samed, the defensive midfielder whose relentless work has been a major factor in Lens' climb up the Ligue 1 table, also deserves a mention, it's hard to look beyond the Belgium international striker. Openda registered the quickest ever Ligue 1 hat trick (five minutes) away against Clermont on March 12 -- so quick that the TV screens were literally struggling to keep up as they showed replays of his first goal while the others kept rolling in -- and added two more against Angers a week later.

Still considered somewhat of a streak scorer, it'll be interesting to see if he can build on his current run of five goals in three games (with a non-penalty xG of 0.76 goals per 90 minutes, he's one of the most productive goal scorers on the continent.)


Rasmus Hojlund, 20, centre-forward, Atalanta

Despite featuring in last month's Hotlist and by no means an unknown quantity now, it's fair to flag up the young striker's spectacular week with his country. In his first two starting appearances for Denmark -- in hindsight, perhaps he should have been part of the attack during the World Cup -- he scored a hat trick against Finland (3-1) in Copenhagen and grabbed a brace in the away defeat in Kazakhstan a few days later.

His goal-scoring spree for Denmark -- one header, three with his favoured left foot (including a delicate chip) and one with his right --- will only increase the interest from Europe's elite clubs. The exceptionally quick and powerful forward also pitched in with one goal in three games for Atalanta too.

Zeki Amdouni, 22, forward/attacking midfielder, FC Basel

The multi-purpose attacker got himself on the scoresheet in only his second and third international caps for Switzerland in wins against Belarus (5-0) and Israel (3-0). In fact, his productive week with the national side comes as no surprise to followers of Swiss football as he's been in outstanding form for Basel in 2023.

Exceptionally gifted, Amdouni is blessed with lovely close control and technical ability. He moves elegantly and is able to twist and turn his way out of confined spaces. His shooting is impressive (even from set pieces) and he possesses a playmaker's eye for a penetrative pass. Currently on loan from Lausanne, Basel are expected to exercise their option to sign him permanently in the coming weeks.

Ethan Nwaneri, 16, attacking midfielder, Arsenal

Nwaneri may have slipped back under the radar after becoming the Premier League's youngest-ever player (15 years, 5 months and 23 days) when he made his debut for Arsenal off the bench in September, but his recent performances for England under-17s proves that he's still very much on track.

At last week's European Championship qualification mini-tournament, the midfielder, who is a wonderful dribbler, scored two goals and set up another in a 3-1 win against Denmark before being taken off at the hour mark. If that wasn't enough, he scored both goals in the win over Northern Ireland three days later. On current form, another Premier League cameo might be on the cards before the end of the season.

Read 48 times


Juve approach Barca, Real on Super League exit

Juve approach Barca, Real on Super League exit

Juventus look set to leave the Super League project still being pursued by Real Madrid and Barcelona...

Benzema joins Al Ittihad after Madrid departure

Benzema joins Al Ittihad after Madrid departure

Karim Benzema has signed for Al Ittihad, the club announced Tuesday, becoming the latest star to joi...

CCL to be renamed, winners to get $5m prize

CCL to be renamed, winners to get $5m prize

Concacaf announced Tuesday that it is renaming the Concacaf Champions League to the Concacaf Champio...


Griffin 'humbled' by chance with talented Bucks

Griffin 'humbled' by chance with talented Bucks

MILWAUKEE -- Adrian Griffin understands the responsibility that comes with taking over a title conte...

Vogel's goal for Suns: 'Take the league by storm'

Vogel's goal for Suns: 'Take the league by storm'

PHOENIX -- Frank Vogel led the Lakers to an NBA title in his first season in Los Angeles by finding...


Jacob deGrom's elbow surgery deprives us of peak deGrom -- again

Jacob deGrom's elbow surgery deprives us of peak deGrom -- again

With his first pitch in a Texas Rangers uniform, Jacob deGrom threw a 99.6 mph fastball. His next fi...

Judge's toe getting better, but IL trip still possible

Judge's toe getting better, but IL trip still possible

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are holding their breath with Aaron Judge's toe injury.Swelling in Judge's t...

Sports Leagues

  • FIFA

    Fédération Internationale de Football Association
  • NBA

    National Basketball Association
  • ATP

    Association of Tennis Professionals
  • MLB

    Major League Baseball
  • ITTF

    International Table Tennis Federation
  • NFL

    Nactional Football Leagues
  • FISB

    Federation Internationale de Speedball

About Us

I Dig® is a leading global brand that makes it more enjoyable to surf the internet, conduct transactions and access, share, and create information.  Today I Dig® attracts millions of users every month.r


Phone: (800) 737. 6040
Fax: (800) 825 5558
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.