Newcastle have been heavily linked with Heerenveen's Icelandic striker, Alfred Finnbogason, over the past few months. He's been scoring goals for fun in the Eridivisie (16 in 14).
In the past, the lad has previously been valued at £5m, an absolute bargain by anyone’s standards. However, it has been suggested that his asking price has now caught up with his ability and the possibility of being able to prize him away in January has become increasingly unlikely, with the big clubs circulating.
Instead, it should perhaps be his midweek opponent in the Amstel Cup match between Heerenveen and AZ Alkmaar, a player who has almost as impressive a scoring record as Finnbogason, and who is a lot cheaper.
And that player is Aron Johannssson.
The 23 year-old, who begun his career at the same Icelandic club as Finnbogason, Ungmennafélagið Fjölnir, has been scoring goals on a regular basis over the past few seasons.
Having scored 13 goals in 37 games for Fjolnir, as just a 19 year-old start-out, he earned himself a move to Danish team, AGF Aarhus, a team who consistently appear in the Europe League. And at Aarhus, he managed to score 23 goals in 65 games, a remarkably similar record to Papiss Cisse’s current record at Newcastle (21 in 64).
And since a January 2013 move to AZ, Johannsson has not looked back. He has netted 13 goals in 22 games, (10 this term) and has benefited hugely from Jozy Altidore’s Summer departure to the Scum. Believe it or not, Altidore was a big-hitter in the Eridivisie and had assumed the prominent role in AZ’s attack before this season.
It’s a unique twist of fate that Johannsson joined AZ in time to make a connection with Altidore — who may have played a role in convincing the Alabama-born Icelander to play for the United States — and is now endeavoring to both replace him and play with him for club and country respectively.
Though Johannsson was born to Icelandic parents, and had lived in Iceland from the age of 3 until his move to Denmark in 2010, he was actually born in Alabama. He has played for the Iceland U21’s and even received a full call-up in October 2012. However, in July 2013, he announced on his Facebook page that he had decided to make himself eligible for US national team.
And in August 2013, he made his debut for the national side against Bosnia and Herzegovinia, and scored is first international goal against Panama in October of this year
Many people will be quick to point out that he lacks the experience of English football, and that the level of football in Iceland, Denmark and Holland is nowhere near the level of the Premier League, but one cannot deny that wherever he has been, he’s scored goals, and a lot of them.
Here’s a video of the lad’s first international goal for the U.S. against Panama – it’s pretty decent.