Michael Laudrup Profile
Michael Laudrup, with Real Madrid 1996.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Michael Laudrup - Career
Laudrup started his career at a young age. His father, Finn, had represented Denmark and Michael followed him to several clubs as his father's career wound down. He played for KB as a 17 year-old, before switching to Brøndby, where his impact was immediate, scoring 15 goals to finish as the league's 3rd highest scorer and then being named as the Danish Football Player of the Year.
Scouts around Europe had been scrambling to see this youngster who was receiving rave reviews, and it wasn't long before two of Europe's biggest clubs were battling it out for his signature. Liverpool looked like they'd won it, but a last minute complication over the length of the contract scuppered the deal and Laudrup signed for Juventus instead.
However, if Laudrup had known what was about to unfold in Turin then maybe he'd have opted for Anfield instead. Italy had a strict two foreign players limit at the time of his transfer in 1983, and it's subsequently been claimed that Laudrup didn't realise that he would be shipped out on loan to Lazio as Juventus were unwilling to move out either of their existing foreign stars, Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek.
Laudrup made a decent start to life in Serie A, scoring twice on his Lazio debut against Hellas Verona, and he would finish the season as the club's joint top-scorer, alongside Bruno Giordano, with eight goals, a respectable return for the notoriously low-scoring Serie A of the early 1980s.
Laudrup ended up playing for Lazio again in the 1984-85 season, Juventus opting to keep Platini and Boniek as their two foreign players as they'd both been playing so well. It was a tough season for both Laudrup and Lazio though, Laudrup scoring just one goal as Lazio finished second from bottom of the league and were relegated to Serie B.
Despite a disappointing season, there was some good news awaiting Laudrup in the summer of 1985, as Juventus announced an agreement with Roma for the transfer of Zbigniew Boniek. This meant that Laudrup could finally make his debut for ‘the Old Lady', two years after signing for them. After waiting so long Laudrup made the most of his first season, scoring seven goals to help them claim the Serie A title ahead of Roma and helping the club become Intercontinental Cup winners for the first time, Laudrup playing his part by grabbing an 82nd minute equaliser against Argentinos Juniors, the game finishing 2:2 before Juve won 4:2 on penalties. Unfortunately, this would prove to be Laudrup's best season for ‘the Old Lady', the following season saw him struggling with injuries, and then 1987-88 was when Platini retired - Laudrup was expected to fill the void of the great Frenchman but struggled and Juventus finished 6th, their lowest league finish since
In 1989 Laudrup joined Barcelona, Johan Cruyff had joined the club as coach in the previous summer and was looking to rebuild the club and challenge not only Real Madrid's growing domestic dominance, but ultimately on the European scene too. There was a three foreign-player rule in Spain at the time, so out went Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes, and in came Laudrup and Ronald Koeman.
Cruyff's footballing philosophy and vision had an immediate impact on Laudrup, and he looked a player reborn after that tough final season with Juventus. In the next few years at the Camp Nou, Laudrup would form some great partnerships with a number of other attack-minded players, the likes of Hristo Stoichkov, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Begiristain and Romário. For the forwards such as Stoichkov and Romário, Laudrup's selfless play as a provider of assists was a godsend. With the Dane settling in so well to Cruyff's system it was no surprise to see the shift in power from Madrid to Catalonia, and after claiming his first La Liga title at the end of the 1990-91 season, Laudrup would then claim four titles in a row, as well as winning the 1992 European Cup with victory over Sampdoria.
Laudrup would spend five seasons at Barcelona, but, unfortunately, his final season with the club was a controversial affair that would see his relationship with Cruyff deteriorate because of contract issues and rumours of links to Real Madrid. Cruyff had apparently asked the board to begin contract negotiations with Laudrup during the 1993-94 season, but Laudrup said he'd prefer to wait until later in the season. However, by mid-winter rumours were surfacing that he'd signed a pre-contract with Real Madrid, this led to
Michael Laudrup - Playing Style
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