The whole country might be covered in snow and ice, making outdoor training impossible, but the Swedish off-season is over. Clubs are signing players again, and by the end of the week the January transfer window will open, allowing clubs all over Europe to pilfer Sweden’s playing lists. We’ll see some old heads retire or demoted to the lower leagues, we’ll see some talented future Swedish internationals pouched by richer clubs abroad, and if we’re lucky we might even see some mature Swedish stars returning to end their careers back at their home town club.
Considering they are the champions and have a squad laden with promising youngsters, Malmö FF can expect the most attention from abroad. Ivo Pękalski, Daniel Larsson, Guillermo Molins and Agon Mehmeti are just some of the young prospects that they’ll struggle to keep. Runners-up Helsingborg could loose Rasmus Jönsson, Pär Hansson, Alexander Gerndt and Joel Ekstrand. Fiorentina are rumoured to be interested in IFK Göteborg’s Adam Johansson, while Robin Söder is attracting interest in England and Italy. Below are five players that you can almost guarantee won’t be left in Sweden by January 31.
At the start of the season Alexander Gerndt was a once-promising youngster who had failed to come good and was struggling to hold a first team place at Gelfe IF. By mid-season he was the highest goal scorer in the league despite Gelfe being in the relegation zone. The notion that he was a big-fish-in-a-small-pond was soon put to rest by the fact that his goal-scoring proficiency continued when he signed for top-of-the-table Helsingborg, scoring 12 goals in 15 games. Dutch side SC Heerenveen were rumoured to be sniffing around in summer before he signed for Helsingborg and his second half of the season performance would not have put them off.
Daniel Larsson continued to make huge improvements in 2010 and even broke into the Swedish national team. His ten goals and ten assists (the highest in the league) were invaluable to Malmö’s league-winning team. At only 23 years old, he will continue to improve and he will not have gone unnoticed by clubs abroad. English tabloids claim Birmingham City are keeping tabs on him.
In fact Malmö will struggle to keep a number of their players when the transfer window opens up, in particular Ivo Pekalski. The 20 year-old made his debut for Malmö FF at the beginning of the year and by season’s end was one of the best midfielders in the league. In his youth he has trained with Arsenal and Liverpool, and while they might have passed him up, it is inevitable that plenty of other clubs in Europe will be making some tempting bids in January.
I actually predicted that Denni Avdic would be pouched last summer, but after what turned out to be a relatively quiet transfer window, the 22 year-old was allowed to play out the year at Elfsborg. The young striker went on to become the league’s second highest goal scorer with 19 goals, and Elfsborg will once again have to ward off poachers. Rumours have repeatedly linked him to a range of mid-to-lower table English premier league clubs including Birmingham City, Blackburn and West Brom.
Dutch-Moroccan midfielder Mostapha El Kabir was undoubtedly the signing of the season, almost single handedly helping the newly promoted Mjällby become one of the most attacking and entertaining sides in the league. It is hard to believe now but the 22 year-old midfielder actually had to go on trial at Mjällby before convincing the club to sign him. Having gone through the youth ranks at Ajax and Feyernoord, El Kabir has always been a promising player but his career has been hampered by his off-field behaviour. After his debut season with Mjällby, a number of Dutch clubs will be more open to the idea of giving him a second chance.