Alfred Finnbogason is a name that’s starting to be commonly known in Europe. The striker from Iceland joined Dutch side Heerenveen in the summer of 2012 and has been a revelation ever since. With eight games remaining in the Dutch Eredivisie, Finnbogason has scored 19 goals in 26 games. Heerenveen have been a struggling side during this year’s campaign. That makes it even more remarkable to see Finnbogason so often on the score sheet. Heerenveen coach Marco van Basten has landed an absolute steal only spending a fee around 500.000 euros
Alfred Finnbogason, born on February 1st 1989 in Reykjavik, has spent a part of his youth in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father studied at the local university and Finnbogason started playing football for Hutcheson Vale and was a keen supporter of Ediburgh club, Hibernian.
Back in Iceland his professional football career kicked off at Breiðablik in Kópavogur. In 2009 he scored 13 goals in 18 games and went onto to receive the award for the Best Young footballer of the Year in Iceland. In 2010 he became joint top-scorer with 14 goals and was voted Player of the Year by his fellow professional Icelandic footballers. The club also won their first Urvalsdelid (league) title ever and the Icelandic Cup. He played a total of 43 games for the Icelandic club and scored 28 goals before joining Belgian club Sporting Lokeren. It wasn’t a very successful period for the 24-year-old in Belgium. The club sent him on loan to Helsingborg IF in Sweden for six months in March 2012. It was a successful loan move to 7 time Swedish champions. He started a run of 12 goals in just 17 games and caught Heerenveen’s attention. He even scored his first professional hat-trick while in Sweden for Helsingborg.
In August last year he signed a three-year contract for Heerenveen. He scored on his home debut for Heerenveen against defending champions Ajax, helping them to a commendable 2-2 draw. He scored his first ‘non-friendly’ goal for the Icelandic national team 5 days later, against Norway in a World Cup Qualifier.
Finnbogason made his debut for the Icelandic national team in 2010 against the Faroe Islands in a friendly. He scored on his full debut against Israel in a 3-2 loss. So far he has scored 3 goals in 12 games.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
Finnbogason a bit of a slight figure at 78kg and like many Scandinavian and Eredivisie strikers, is a hard-working forward. He has a bit of flair to his game and can always be relied upon to get the goals. During the season the 24-year-old Icelandic international had stretches where he scored in six successive games and had seven goals in five games.
Heerenveen have had esteemed forwards in the past like Ruud van Nistelrooy, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Bas Dost, John Dahl Tomasson and Afonso Alves. The current topscorer of Heerenveen has been compared with Huntelaar and Van Nistelrooy. Former Heerenveen player and Dutch international Jurrie Koolhof thinks Finnbogason has most in common with Van Nistelrooy. “He’s movable and sharp in the box, a real team player and works his socks off”.
Playing as a striker, he has great aerial ability, good hold up technique in build up play, a good shooting technique and skill to beat a defender. He might not have electrifying pace, but makes up for it with the strengths of his other attributes. With many clubs shifting to a more agile lone striker approach, players like Finnbogason will prosper. The Icelandic footballer helps bringing his team-mates into the game rather than just asking for service from the deeper players.
While playing for Lokeren, he could not hit his scoring peak, and could manage only four goals in 22 appearances. However, his loan move at the start of 2012 to Swedish champions Helsingborg was a significant turnaround in his career, and he netted 12 goals in his 17 appearances. He caught the eyes of clubs as a possible transfer target when he scored one goal and assisted five against Polish champions Slask Wroclaw in their 6-1 victory in the UEFA Champions League 3rd qualifying round. He’s continuing this run under the guidance of Dutch legend, Marco van Basten, at Heerenveen. You won’t get a better teacher for a striker than a 3 time Ballon D’or winner.
Alfred Finnbogason has still two years left on his contract after this season. The striker’s reportedly valued at £6 million in the British media. Clubs such as Aston Villa, West Ham United, AC Milan and Everton have scouted the striker more than once this season.
The Hammers have Marouane Chamakh and Andy Carroll respectively on loan from Arsenal and Liverpool, but it remains to be seen if either deal is to be made permanent, while the budgets of Villa and Everton are also rather restrictive. A respectively cheap striker from the Dutch league would solve some problems for the clubs.
People close to the striker have confirmed AC Milan are interested. “AC Milan are already aware of Finnbogason and have watched him several times this season. They have an association with Marco van Basten and hope that will work in their favour”.
Finnbogason said just before the transfer window in January that nothing was official. “I’m already tired of clubs changed over the past year”.
After such a strong season in a league where many clubs keep an eye on in their search for new talent, it’s a possibility Finnbogason will leave the Dutch after just one season. It’s all about the right club and offer coming in.
It is important that Finnbogason receives the right guidance and doesn’t make a big move too soon. The Dutch Eredivisie is known to produce quality talents, some of them continue to garner praise after moving to Europe’s bigger leagues. But many fail to make an impact and often fall into football obscurity.
This piece was written by Babette van Haaren. Follow her on twitter @BabettevHaaren
Featured image taken from telegraf.nl