A youth international striker who has pace, power, skill and a long throw, what hasn’t Emil Riis got to offer?
The Danish youth international was brought back to England by Preston North End from Randers FC in the Danish Superliga for a fee believed to be seven figures (Lancashire Evening Post).
Riis had originally played in England as part of Derby County’s youth academy set up but was released without making a professional appearance for the club.
Using that as motivation to prove himself in the English game, Riis has been a very promising talent since arriving in the North West back in October 2020.
His first few games had Preston fans thinking they had struck gold. North End fans have been crying out for the signing of a striker since the departure of Jordan Hugill to West Ham back in 2018 for a club record selling fee.
After impressive performances against QPR and Huddersfield, Riis finally got his first goal in a North End shirt in a 0-3 away victory against Reading, a performance that got Preston fans very excited
One thing Riis appeared to be missing was confidence, but that seems to be in full flow so far this campaign.
Nine goal contributions in 13 games in all competitions, Riis has come flying out the blocks this season and looks set to reach at least 15 goals, something that has been a rarity for North End since returning to the Championship in 2015.
Emil Riis has shown no matter how experienced the defender, he can get the better of them with his sheer pace and power. His close control dribbling and his awareness when taking on a defender has been brilliant to see for the North End faithful.
He struggled to get a real run in the side under Alex Neil, but under Frankie McAvoy he’s enjoyed a lot more game time. McAvoy has had some decent results whilst in charge, particularly in the latter stages of last campaign where he used a 3-5-2 formation.
The 3-5-2 has continued this campaign, with Sean Maguire being the predominant partner to Emil Riis and the pair have worked well together.
Despite Maguire not having the best of goal-scoring records, his presence and tireless running allows Riis to isolate defenders and beat them one-on-one whilst also being in an around the six yard box whilst Maguire is maintaining the press with the wing-backs.
One trait Frankie McAvoy seemed to rely on a lot last season was a long-throw. Tom Barkhuizen was the main taker but has been missing for some time now after suffering with Covid that has been difficult due to Barkhuizen already suffering with asthma.
The long-throw duty was then passed on to Riis, who shocked many with what can only be described as a ‘bullet’ of a long throw as he causes constant issues and gives North End another dynamic to their attack.
There has been criticisms of Emil Riis despite being North End’s top scorer this season, for missing too many chances. On reflection, the striker has missed a couple of chances that you’d expect a striker to be finishing, one-on-ones for example in games such as Birmingham City away and a chance at Sheffield United when the scores were level late in the game.
However, with it only coming up to a year back in English football whilst still being just 23, Emil Riis is far from the finished article, and his potential is clear for all to see. You don’t represent your national team at under 16,17 and 21 level for just ordinary traits. Riis has something about him, something Preston have been desperately missing.
With a bit more Championship experience and a bit more composure which will come with game-time, Riis has the potential to be a top striker in the second division of English football.
With midfielders possessing the creativity of Ben Whiteman, Daniel Johnson and Ryan Ledson, Riis can absolutely thrive in this North End side with a bit of patience from supporters and management.
North End take a number of risks with their recruitment, they sign players young with potential and hope to sell on for a good profit.
This has sometimes worked exceptionally in the form of Jordan Hugill, Callum Robinson, Ben Pearson for example, but it has also not exactly worked which is why Preston fans believe there is still some players that need moving on at the soonest opportunity.
However, you can truly believe if Emil Riis can add some composure to his game to add to the useful traits he has in abundance, Riis will be a player that can fire North End straight up the table, and who knows where in the seasons to come.
Dare I say it? The Premier League.