Leeds United have lined up their first signing of the summer by agreeing a three-year contract with Kalmar striker Marcus Antonsson.
The 25-year-old forward is ready to join Leeds for a fee rising to almost £2m after establishing himself as the top scorer in Sweden’s top flight this season. But who is Antonsson and what will he bring to the squad at Elland Road?
Here, Swedish football writer Johan Velagic – a journalist with website fotbolldirekt.se – discusses the forward’s talent, his international prospects and the challenge of moving from the Allsvenskan to the Championship.
What type of striker is Marcus Antonsson and what are his strengths?
His biggest strength is absolutely his runs in behind defenders. His runs are really clever and you get many through-balls because of that. And then he is a goalscorer. He’s a great player in the box. He’s been playing in a pretty weak team and doesn’t get too many chances so he’s very effective. I really like his work ethic as well. He’s a real team player.
Antonsson is top scorer in Sweden’s Allsvenskan – but do people in Sweden see him as one of the country’s best players?
He’s not been getting that much attention in Sweden. He’s not that well known by the general public. The experts see him as one of the league’s better strikers but not the best. The main reason for that, I think, is that he’s been playing for a small club. Still, in my opinion that just highlights his quality even more. Last year Kalmar finished fourth from the bottom in the league and he still managed to get 12 goals. This year he’s scored 10 goals in 12 games. Kalmar as a club have only scored 18 in total.
Given his goalscoring record, why did he fail to make it into the Sweden squad for Euro 2016? Do you think Antonsson is a future international?
No-one was surprised that he didn’t make it to the Euros. In many opinion, Antonsson wasn’t quite good enough and it’s very hard for a new player to earn (Sweden coach) Erik Hamren’s trust and respect. It takes a lot for players to get a chance in Hamren’s national team.
Even after Antonsson’s breakthrough at Kalmar last season, he didn’t make it to the national team in January when Hamren took players from just the Nordic leagues. In the future, though, I think he will get his chance.
Antonsson’s timing is wonderful. Hamren is leaving after the Euros and the new coach, Janne Andersson, will surely test a lot of new players. I won’t be surprised if Antonsson is one of them. And also, Andersson seems to have more knowledge about the Allsvenskan than Hamren did. I think that Antonsson will represent the blue and yellow in future.
How keen is Antonsson to leave Sweden and move to a different league? Is he an ambitious player?
He’s a very ambitious player. He’s been saying that he wants to move abroad, to do well there and then to get into the national team. He is determined.
Do you expect him to cope well in the Championship? And how high is the standard in the Allsvenskan?
I think he’ll manage to take the step from the Allsvenskan to the Championship. The Allsvenskan is better than it’s been in many years. We are far behind a lot of leagues in Europe but we’re moving in the right direction. I would say that the best teams in Allsvenskan would do it pretty well in the Championship.
Is the rumoured fee good value in your opinion?
The most recent information is that the fee will be 20m Swedish crones. That is something like £1.6m. It’s really good money for Kalmar. If you compare it to Lasse Vibe (who went from IFK Goteborg to Brentford last year for £1m), Antonsson is expensive – even though he is three years younger. I wouldn’t be surprised if Leeds sell him for a bigger fee. He has potential.