After a three month hiatus and much speculation about his future, Mike Havenaar, the Japanese international striker, has joined Finnish Champions HJK Helsinki in a somewhat surprising free transfer.
After being released early from his Córdoba CF contract in December, the striker had been much sort after, being linked with moves to the Bundesliga, Eredivisie where he previously played with Vitesse Arnhem and the J.League but has opted to join the Finnish Champions who are looking to defend their Veikkausliiga crown and qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
Havenaar has signed with the club until the end of August 2015 and joins alongside several other new signings including fellow Japanese Atomu Tanaka (From Albirex Niigata), Swede Daniel Örlund (Rosenborg BK) and Guy Moussi (Birmingham City) amongst others. The striker will wear the number 14 shirt for the Klubi.
The transfer is quite a coup for HJK and Finnish football if you consider the summer league format and ranking by UEFA. The organisation only rates the Veikkausliiga the 35th best league in Europe nestling between the Georgian Premier League in 34th and Icelandic Úrvalsdeild in 36th place. Remember, Havenaar was playing in the highest ranking European league just three months ago.
— HJK Helsinki (@hjkhelsinki) March 2, 2015
The move has surprised many when bigger clubs were rumoured to be interested, however it is a good opportunity for the giant striker to regain his goal-scoring touch after a miserable half season in Spain.
In signing for just the 2015 season which ends in August, it seems that Havenaar can use his time in the Fininish capital to put himself in the European shop window once more and use HJK as a stepping stone to further his career elsewhere in Europe.
HJK are expected to have yet another successful season and are huge favourites to win the league. Last year saw the team walk the competition by 12 points which secured their 6th championship in a row alongside the Finnish F.A. Cup which they have now won 12 times.
Although last year’s runners-up SJK have strengthened over the winter break, they are still expected to finish behind the dominant HJK who seem to have the monopoly on domestic football.
The new season is already underway in the shape of the League Cup and after Friday’s 2-0 quarter final win over FC Lahti in which Havenaar debuted, it is not too far-fetched to expect a domestic treble this year.
That game saw Havenaar make his debut after signing two days prior, coming on as a second half substitute and scoring. The striker secured the win for his new club in the 85th minute, converting his countryman Tanaka’s cross to grab a goal on his debut.