Alexander Isak may not be a household name just yet, but the 21-year-old has been making waves in La Liga for Real Sociedad for the past two seasons and is already an established international for the Swedish national team.
This summer he has the chance to become the main man up front for Sweden in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence.
Who is he?
After impressing in his home country at AIK, the young striker moved to Dortmund in 2017 for €9 Million. However, his move to Germany was not as prosperous as he might have hoped, only appearing a handful of times, and failing to score.
When he was loaned out to Eredivisie side Willem II, things really started to go his way. He became the first foreign player to score twelve goals in his first twelve games and helped the side reach their first cup final in over ten years.
Dortmund sold Isak to Real Sociedad in 2019 where he has enjoyed two extremely fruitful seasons so far. He came sixth in La Liga’s top scorer charts last season, tucking away an impressive seventeen goals in thirty-four league games.
He made is debut for the Swedish national team at just 17-years-old and in his second game he became Sweden’s youngest ever goalscorer, scoring in an international friendly against Slovakia where Sweden came out 6-0 winners.
Style of play
Isak is an out and out striker and a brilliant finisher. He’s very comfortable with the ball at his feet and his back to goal, while also possessing blistering pace. This mix of strong characteristics make him useful from almost all situations, be it a rapid counter-attack or slow build-up play up the field.
Where Isak excels is his use of free space between defenders. He is an expert at timing his runs and has scored a number of goals running behind the defenders on the back foot. He also works very well to pull markers with him, creating space for other attackers and dropping deep so wingers can run in behind.
Role within the team
For Real Sociedad, Isak usually plays as a lone striker in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. For Sweden he plays as one of two centre forwards in a traditional 4-4-2. Isak is already an important part of the Swedish national setup, receiving twenty-one caps and scoring six times. He has started the last few games for Sweden and will more than likely be in the starting XI for most games, rotated with strikers Robin Quaison, Jordan Larsson and Marcus Berg.
Were it not for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s unfortunate injury in the lead up to the Euros, It would have been exciting to see how him and Isak linked up as they’ve only played together twice before for Sweden. Isak will now have a chance to be the star man for the new generation of Swedish players at his first major tournament but the shadow of Zlatan will no doubt be pressuring him to perform. He may lack Zlatan’s aerial prowess, despite standing at 6’4, but he makes up for that in other parts of his game.
Sweden is part of a tough group including Poland and Slovakia and will be starting off their campaign against group favourites Spain, whose players will no doubt be familiar with what Isak brings to the table. A strong start here and Isak should give him the confidence to help get Sweden into the knockout stages of the competition.
What the future holds
Isak is going from strength to strength in his club career and has a real platform to make a statement at international level in the Euros. Real Madrid, Chelsea and Liverpool have been interested in the striker before but if Erling Haaland makes his much-touted move away from Dortmund then the German club may be tempted to activate their €30 buy back option and give the youngster a second chance. However, Isak may be reluctant to return to the club where he failed at before.
Spanish football clearly suits Isak and Real Madrid will need a new striker to replace an ageing Karim Benzema soon enough. Barcelona will also be looking for a young striker so the Swede will surely have his choice of options come the transfer window.
Whatever the future holds for Alexander Isak, he’s hitting form at the perfect time to make a name for himself in the Euros this summer.