Leeds United striker Marcus Antonsson has signalled his intention to stay and fight for a place at Elland Road amid talk of a swift return to Sweden.
Antonsson is attracting interest from clubs in his homeland with the new Allsvenskan season underway but the forward claimed he was “far from being done abroad” despite a quiet first year at Leeds.
United signed him from Kalmar in a deal worth up to £1.5m last summer but he was a bit-part player under Garry Monk and found appearances hard to come by in the second half of the season.
Antonsson made an early impression by scoring on his full debut in a League Cup tie at Fleetwood Town in August and claiming the opening goal as Leeds secured their first league win of the term at Sheffield Wednesday 10 days later.
His most recent Championship start came in September, however, and he was not used at all by Monk after featuring in an FA Cup defeat to non-league Sutton United in January, kept out of the side by 30-goal striker Chris Wood.
Leeds considered making Antonsson available on loan during the winter transfer window but chose to retain him as cover for the run-in.
Antonsson’s agent, Anders Karlsson, told the YEP at the time that the striker was “very happy in Leeds”.
Antonsson, who has two years left on his contract, has since echoed those comments in an interview with Swedish website Fotbolldirekt, playing down suggestions of a potential move home to Allsvenskan side AIK.
“It’s a sign that you’ve done something good,” Antonsson said. “It’s flattering when a top (Swedish) club wants you.
“I’ve grown up with the Allsvenskan and I love the division so yes, it’s flattering but my focus is still at Leeds. I know I’m far from being done abroad.
I feel like I’ve developed and right now I don’t feel ready to take a step back.Leeds United’s Marcus Antonsson.
“In a way it’s been a strange season with not much playing time but when I think back on the season I’ve learned a lot. It’s different football, more physical, and you have to adapt a little.
“My condition is much better now that I’ve got this season behind me.
“I feel like I’ve developed and right now I don’t feel ready to take a step back.”
Antonsson was initially a victim of Monk’s reliance on a 4-2-3-1 system, a formation which accommodated only Wood up front, but United’s head coach looked to Souleymane Doukara ahead of Antonsson on the rare occasions when Wood was unavailable.
Wood’s goals flowed consistently and his penalty at Wigan Athletic on the last day of the campaign made him the sixth player in United’s history to score 30 in one season.
“Chris Wood was like I was in Kalmar,” said Antonsson, who ranked as Sweden’s top scorer when he moved to Leeds. “He had incredible form.
“It was a bit difficult for the team for a period of time so we played with the single striker. He got the chance, scored and went with it so I don’t see that I was demoted. Someone else has done really well.
“I think there are opportunities for me regardless. I have attributes that fit (English football). My attitude is and has always been to continue here. Chris Wood has scored a lot of goals but I feel that I’m competing to the highest level.”