Yesterday saw Borussia Dortmund dip into the transfer window for the first, and possibly only, time this January. The club announced that they’d signed 17-year-old striker Alexander Isak from Swedish club AIK.
The fee is reportedly somewhere around €9 million. Not a hefty price for a player who has been called “The next Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”
If he turns out to be half as good as Zlatan is/was, then it will be a successful transfer for BVB. Isak fills a need, and represents another promising youngster in Thomas Tuchel’s arsenal.
He’s moved from the Swedish league, so there’s a good chance most Dortmund fans don’t know much about him. Fear not, we’re here to lead you out of the unknown.
Isak was born and raised in Solna, an area of Stockholm. His parents had come to Sweden from Eritrea.
His footballing career started when he began playing for AIK’s youth teams at age 6. Isak only started appearing for AIK’s senior team in 2016, when he scored 10 goals in 24 games. Along the way he also became the youngest scorer in the history of Sweden’s top flight.
On January 8 he made his debut for Sweden’s senior national team, coming on as a substitute against Ivory Coast. He got a start against Slovakia a few days later and again made history. He scored a goal in a 6-0 rout and became Sweden’s youngest goalscorer ever.
As is usually the case with Swedes, his English is perfect, as you can see from his first interview with BVB.
At 17, he’s got plenty of time to pick up German. Look how quickly Pulisic learned, maybe he can tutor him?
Style of Play
Isak is widely considered to be the brightest prospect in Swedish football. He also plays striker. This of course naturally leads to comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the greatest Swedish scorer of all time.
Isak is certainly big like Ibra. He’s 6’3 but still very quick and mobile. He still needs to bulk-up and add more strength to his game, but at 17 that’s an easy thing to do. Who knows, he may even grow another inch or two.
The new Swedish prodigy is also like Zlatan in that he likes to take-on opposing defenders on the dribble. He’s confident enough in his foot skills and pace that he is always looking to run at, or by, center-backs.
At 6’3 it’s also fair to assume that Isak will provide another decent option for set pieces, both on the offensive and defensive ends of the pitch.
To get a bit of a taste of what the new guy brings to the table, check out the 8 goals Isak scored for AIK last season.
Here are the 8 goals Alexander Isak (@alex_isak) has scored this season for AIK. pic.twitter.com/cASJTzhhxm— (@SwedeStats) October 5, 2016
Isak is so young that there really isn’t a ton of footage out there on him. He hasn’t even spent a full year as a senior squad player. But these clips are definitely encouraging.
Dortmund have been spoiled with the recent success of another 17-year-old in Christian Pulisic, but it’s worth remembering that not every U18 player can be dropped into a senior side without any major issues.
Assuming Adrian Ramos leaves, the Isak signing fills a need, but it’s not realistic to expect him to be perfect right off-the-bat. Who knows how his skills will translate from the Swedish league, to the far-superior Bundesliga.
But search on Twitter or Reddit and see what kinds of things Swedish football fans are saying about Isak. Sure, they want him to succeed, but many truly believe he is the next big thing for them.
If he proves them right, it will be another in a long line of promising youngsters developing at BVB.