Tag Archives: Simon Gustafson

Häcken duo en route to the big European scene

Young duo Carlos Strandberg and Simon Gustafson are playing well in Allsvenskan and might head to bigger leagues sooner rather than later.

Allsvenskan, the top flight of Swedish football, is still home to several interesting youngsters despite the move of the country’s most talented teens to foreign academies. Two of the most exciting players in Allsvenskan are BK Häcken’s left footed duo Carlos Strandberg and Simon Gustafson.

The 18-year-old Strandberg, who has Mozambican heritage, is a big centre forward with a strong physical presence and pace. With a fairly good technique, he’s also a strong finisher with both his head and feet. Strandberg was one of the key players when Sweden won a bronze medal in 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Even though he didn’t score a lot of goals in the tournament, he played well and supported his team mates in an effective way. Strandberg’s superior physical presence, ability to play as a targetman and holding up the ball while waiting for his team mates to get there, work-rate which includes many selfless runs, were vital ingredients to the young Swedish team. His superior presence, ability to play as a target man who can hold up the ball while waiting for his team mates, and work rate evidenced by selfless runs were vital contributions to the young Swedish team.

Sceptics felt that the physically imposing striker, standing at 186 centimeters tall and weighing 90 kilograms, relied heavily on his physique while playing on youth level. However, his recent success for BK Häcken’s first team indicates that he’s well-equipped to perform not only against ‘kids’, but against men as well. Strong competition for spots and injuries caused Strandberg to only feature in 8 games this season. In those, he has managed to score 3 goals and 3 assists.

His highly impressive performances made Strandberg a hot bargain on the transfer market. Europe is calling and the amount of interest is huge. According to Swedish and foreign media, Strandberg is on the verge of joining Borussia Dortmund for around €2-3 million. I believe that move would make a lot of sense for everybody involved. Strandberg will get an opportunity to work with Jürgen Klopp, who has an amazing record with developing young players, and Dortmund will get a young player with obvious star potential.

The other half of Häcken’s duo is Simon Gustafson who looks set to be the most exciting talent in the league in the event of Strandberg’s departure. The 19-year-old Gustafson is an offensive central midfielder with impressive game intelligence and technique. While he has scored 4 goals so far this season, perhaps the most notable aspect of his performances is his consistency. Being able to sustain a high level of performance is remarkable for his age and no doubt an ability foreign scouts have noticed.

Simon Gustafson 1

The 185 centimeter tall Gustafson is by no means a finished product, but he’s certainly a very interesting prospect for the future. Häcken coach Peter Gerhardsson told the Swedish paper Sportbladet that the teenager needs to get tougher and get a better understanding of the physical duels, but added that they are working on that individually. Indeed, that’s one of the very few weaknesses in Gustafson’s impressive game.

His performances have created a big interest around Europe, but he’s a down to Earth guy and understands it’s better to continue in Allsvenskan than get stuck on a bench or a loan loop. “I’m not ready yet. It’s not worth the risk of ending up in a Primeravera-team,” Gustafson told Sportbladet when asked about the interest from Serie A.

Some Swedish journalists think Sweden manager Erik Hamrén should give Gustafson a shot on a senior international level. It’s just a matter of time before he gets his first full cap and moves to a big league, but he’s staying put for the moment which is exciting for Allsvenskan as a league.