We could sit here all day discussing about the best up and coming talents in the world and in truth they are plenty out there. But there is something special about the Swedish prodigies and when you look at them, it’s hard to say that these players will flop and not reach their greatest potential. These are players that have already experienced first team duties with their club and they appear to be ready to make the step up at international level aswell. So let’s take a deeper look into Sweden’s players with potential; the first piece is on Fulham winger Alex Alex Kacaniklic.
Name: Alex Kacaniklic
Kacaniklic is a player that watchers of the premier league will recognise and they will be aware about the outstanding qualities that he possesses. He is player equipped with pure flair and quality and he oozes class. The winger has endured a remarkable few years which has seen him go from a youth team player at Swedish outfit Helsingborg IF, to one of the first names on the team-sheet at Fulham. Not much is known about his time at Helsingborg, except that it was crystal clear that Kacaniklic had talent. That talent wasn’t going un-noticed and Liverpool had been closely monitoring the 21-year-old and made the decision to snap him up in 2007.
At the time he moved to Anfield, Liverpool were a club on the up and had been enjoying a great period in the club’s history; under the stewardship of Rafael Benitez, they were playing some very attacking football, heavily involving the likes of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. So it was difficult for any youth team player to get a run in the side, no matter how good they were. He was routed to featuring in the youth team and he played fairly regularly.
One of his best moments at Liverpool was his wonderful goal in the FA Youth Cup final against Arsenal in the 2008-09 seasons. Sadly, it didn’t work out for him for the Reds and he subsequently departed for Fulham; being part of the deal that involved Paul Konchesky moving in the opposite direction, without ever playing a game. Since then, Kacaniklic has only gone from strength to strength and he has benefited from his decision to leave Liverpool. It did take him some time to get his chance at Fulham and he went two years just playing for the reserves.
In a bid to gain some experience, Kacaniklic was sent on loan to Watford in January 2012 until the end of the season, though it actually finished in March. He came up with a series of impressive displays and finished his stint with Watford with 12 appearances and 1 goal. There may have been moments of frustration for him, but his patience and hard work paid off when he returned to Craven Cottage and started to receive some first team action. Martin Jol opted to hand the Swede his debut against Norwich and then a few weeks later he made his first start against Bolton, playing 88 minutes of the 90.
In the summer, Kacaniklic signed a two-year deal, with the option to extend it to a third year with the Cottagers. Two key players left Fulham in the transfer window in Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey and that only increased his chances of making Martin Jol’s XI. In the club’s first game of the season, Kacaniklic was simply unplayable. He was deployed on the left and combined excellently with Mladen Petric, aswell as notching up his first goal. His good start to the season continued and in the match with West Brom, it was another master-class from the man seen as Fulham’s answer to Kaka, he provided 2 assists for new signing Dimitar Berbatov and was again at his best.
From what we have seen of Kacaniklic, it is obvious that he has undoubted talent. He has a wand of a left-foot and his ability to spot a pass is exceptional. He is capable of playing on either flank and can also slot in a central-midfield role if needed. So far he has made 9 appearances this season, 1 in the Capital One Cup and 8 in the Premier League. He may not be 100% pleased with the game-time he has received but he is regarded very highly by Martin Jol, so he needs not to worry. He has progressed through the ranks in Sweden and has now featured 3 times for the first-team. He is just one of a few hot prospects in Swedish Football and he is a very exciting youngster. So it will be intriguing to see if he can well and truly cement his place in the Fulham side and become a Sweden regular.
By Josh Lawless @BackOfTheNetJL