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07-29-2004, 05:06 PM
  #10
Sampe
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Vantaa
Country: Finland
Posts: 2,648
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I'm finally done with the Finnish list, which only features 10 players + a wild card as the best Finnish talents have usually spent years abroad by the age of 22 and the depth here isn't that huge. Moreover, and due to the reasons I just mentioned, the players are quite a bit younger on my list. I decided to value potential over current abilities, although I naturally tried to take the players' progress into consideration.

And now, without further ado, the list. Nothing spectacular, no new Maradonas or even Litmanens, but some pretty good talents:

1. Alexei Eremenko Jr
Born: 24.3.1983 -- Position: AMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 183 cm -- Team: HJK->Lecce

The son of a still active Veikkausliiga legend Alexei Eremenko; moved to Finland along with his family in 1991 and obtained Finnish citizenship in 2003. Was relatively hyped throughout his junior career but showed only glimpses of his potential until this year when he finally started to dominate the Finnish Veikkausliiga. Is already close to a starting spot in the national team and widely considered the heir apparent to Jari Litmanen, although no one expects him to fully replace Finland's greatest ever footballer. Was transferred to Lecce a few weeks ago for a modest price of ~ 250 000 euros - a bargain like most Nordic talents.

Eremenko Jr is a fairly typical #10: flashy, creative, attacking minded and good in dead ball situations. He also has a decent shot from long range. Weaknesses include lack of speed, inconsistent work rate and a hot temper. Needs to get rid of some extra weight and improve his 1st touch. The much faster tempo in Serie A might prove to be a problem at first.

2. Niklas Moisander
Born: 29.9.1985 -- Position: DL -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 181 cm -- Team: Ajax

Joined Ajax in the summer of 2003 along with his brother Henrik (a goalkeeper). The twins were supposed to play for the U19 team, but were quickly promoted to the reserves after impressing in their very first practice. That was the good news - the bad news came in October when Niklas injured his left knee and was sidelined for months. After reinjuring the knee in a bizarre accident he ended up missing the rest of the 2003/04 season.

I've never seen Moisander play (apart from a 3-second highlight...based on that he reads the game well and has an accurate left foot ), but last year he was considered the biggest Finnish talent since Mikael Forssell. The injury was a major setback of course, but barring a miracle the Finnish national team should finally get themselves a decent if not excellent full back.

3. Kasper Hämäläinen
Born: 8.8.1986 -- Position: MC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 184 cm -- Team: TPS

Was completely unknown before the U-17 World Championships last year, but received plenty of hype after being Finland's most consistent player in the tournament. Was invited to training camps by Ajax, Udinese and AS Roma (twice) and made his breakthrough in the Veikkausliiga this year, impressing in just about every game. Was unfortunate to broke his leg in late May but should hopefully recover well before the Veikkausliiga season 2004 ends.

Hämäläinen is a hardworking, skilled, smart and explosive 2-way midfielder who can also play on the wings as he has done for TPS this season. Needs to add more muscle to his 70-kg frame and make faster decisions with the ball. Whether he can reach the levels of Teemu Tainio or Mika Väyrynen in the future remains to be seen, but so far so good.

4. Tim Sparv
Born: 20.2.1987 -- Position: MC/ML -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: ??? cm -- Team: Southampton

Never seen him. Joined Southampton in late August 2003 and spent most of the last season playing for the Saints' U17 team. A smallish left-sided midfielder with lots of skill from what I've heard.

5. Roman Eremenko
Born: 19.3.1987 -- Position: AMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 180 cm -- Team: FF Jaro

Never seen him either. Is said to be a fairly similar player to his older brother and, according to some, perhaps even more talented. Has yet to make his Veikkausliiga debut though. Plays for the same club as his father.

6. Joona Toivio
Born: 10.3.1988 -- Position: DC/DMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: ??? cm -- Team: HJK

Never seen him. Has been one of the standout players of his age group in Finland for quite a few years now. Was first checked out by Ajax at the age of 14 and just recently received an invitation to be tested by Manchester United. A skilled defensive player and exceptionally smart and mature for his age. Being in the best club in Finland has its drawbacks - Toivio hasn't played for the 1st team just yet.

7. Pekka Lagerblom
Born: 19.10.1982 -- Position: DMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 180 cm -- Team: Werder Bremen

Spent his junior career in Mika Väyrynen's shadow but had a surprisingly convincing debut for the eventual Bundesliga champions Werder Bremen last season. Went on to play in a few more games for them and should be getting more playing time in 2004/05.

An all-round defensive midfielder with no major strengths or weaknesses apart from a good work rate. Already close to making the national team's subs bench, but edging out Tainio or Väyrynen will be a very difficult if not impossible task.

8. Ville Taulo
Born: 14.8.1985 -- Position: DC/MC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 184 cm -- Team: FC Lahti

Never seen him. A former midfielder who was turned into a centre back and earned a starting spot at the heart of FC Lahti's defense last year, at the age of 17. Has done etremely well in all sorts of technique competitions in Finland (then again so did Aki Riihilahti...) so should have plenty of skill for a defender.

9. Aapo Kiljunen
Born: 24.1.1986 -- Position: GK -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 187 cm -- Team: MyPa

Like Kasper Hämäläinen, Kiljunen first earned fame in the 2003 U-17 World Championships with his calm presence and quickness in one-on-one situations. After being unquestionably Finland's MVP in the first two games, however, he was completely humiliated - along with the rest of the team - in the 9-1 defeat (no, it's not a typo) against Colombia.

Although Kiljunen is big enough for a goalkeeper and probably the best Finnish shot stopper since the magnificent Antti Niemi, he is still raw and has a truck load of weaknesses to fix. Somewhat of long shot, but at least the upside is there.

10. Eero Korte
Born: 20.9.1987 -- Position: D/M -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: 178 cm -- Team: FC Lahti

Never seen him. From what I've heard though, he's another defensive player with a soft touch - which applies to both the ball *and* his opponents. Debuted for FC Lahti in April and participated in Chelsea's training camp a few days later.


Wild card:

Ümit Menekse
Born: 13.2.1986 -- Position: AMC -- Nationality: Finland -- Height: ??? cm -- Team: HJK

A Turkish-born playmaker who moved to Finland at the age of 2 (or 4; I'm not so sure about it) - a home made product that is. Was used as a sub in the U-17 tournament and made a good impact with his flair, passing and heading. Has played in the Finnish 3rd tier men's league this year. Extremely slow, but makes that up with his creativity. A long shot.


Last edited by Sampe: 07-29-2004 at 05:22 PM.
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