Since joining Aarhus Gymnastikforening on loan, Mathias Jørgensen registered a total of 22 minutes and earned one yellow card. The 20-year-old striker has failed to appear in a Danish Superliga match since February, a dismal spell that included a positive COVID-19 test and a string of muscle injuries. Barring a truly surprising turn of events, the New York Red Bulls will likely not receive a reported $800,000 transfer fee and see him return to the United States this summer.
“I’m pissed and pissed off that it has only been so little playing time,” he told Danish outlet Bold. “Every time I get a new injury, it has been piss-irritating, but in those situations I have had to move on because otherwise I will not get my training done and will not come back as fast as I can... But I have talked to my family, agent, and my mental trainer, and the most important thing has been to spend time getting stronger.”
All three injuries are of the leg variety, which is disheartening for a player for whom speed has been an important part of his game. However, rehabilitation provided Jørgensen with the opportunity to spend more time in the gym. According to Bold, he has added 7.5 kilos of muscle (a little more than 16.5 pounds) to his admittedly slight frame. His fitness program involves daily strength training, alternating between upper body and leg workouts.
“The fat percentage is still the same, so it is almost pure muscle mass,” revealed the beefier young man who insists he does not resemble David Hasselhoff and has yet to impress his girlfriend. “It has been needed, as I have always been a very thin guy… I feel comfortable in these extra kilos, and I’m sure it’s something that should be done now because otherwise I would not last long as a full-time professional football player. It’s not all about being fast, as I have felt it did before. I have to build on my game if I want to be the best version of myself, and I feel that my new physique can help with that.”
Repeat injuries is a concerning trend, particularly for a player who has recently undergone a significant physical change. Jørgensen acknowledges the extra weight “could have a connection” to his issues, but the increased muscle mass is necessary for his career. He will no longer be a pushover on the field, but now the challenge is getting onto it for the second time in seven months.
The return is “on the way,” with Jørgensen striving to return by the end of the season. Following a 1-0 win over Randers, AGF has three matches remaining this season, the last on May 24th. Even if his work fails to yield positive results during the loan, he “has become more happy to look at [himself] in the mirror,” which is nice.
His optimism and willingness to roll with the punches is a useful quality for a young player attempting to navigate the many dead ends and detours of a professional soccer career. While the loan to AGF appears to have not worked out, the impending move back to New York is not some approaching dark cloud on the horizon. As he told Tipsbladet in January, “I am not dismissive of anything, nor am I at all reluctant to return.”
And in a mere few weeks, return Jørgensen shall.