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3 reasons why Eredivisie man Alfred Finnbogason could provide excellent cover for Arsenal's Olivier Giroud

  • Sitting in 11th place with just four wins from 10 games, Heerenveen aren’t exactly having a good season under Marco van Basten. And yet, they boast the Eredivisie’s second-best attack, with 24 goals scored. Accountable for almost half that tally is striker Alfred Finnbogason. The 24-year-old’s 11 goals is not only the most in the [...]The post
Squawka News
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 20 Mar 2019, 14:54 IST

Alfred Finnbogason

Sitting in 11th place with just four wins from 10 games, Heerenveen aren’t exactly having a good season under Marco van Basten. And yet, they boast the Eredivisie’s second-best attack, with 24 goals scored. Accountable for almost half that tally is striker Alfred Finnbogason. The 24-year-old’s 11 goals is not only the most in the Eredivisie, but is up there with the tallies of the top scorers in Europe’s top five leagues. In fact, he’s tied with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and only Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa has scored more than him (12). What’s more, he is the Eredivisie’s best performer at the moment, earning a Performance Score of 483 points.

His exploits this season are anything but a fluke, a one-off. He had a fantastic debut season after signing from Lokeren last summer, scoring an impressive 24 league goals–again, almost half of Heerenveen’s tally of 50. He has just picked up this season from where he left off last. A goal-scoring record of 35 goals in 41 Eredivisie games is simply phenomenal. It’s no wonder, then, that eyes are on him ahead of the January window. Arsenal, for one, are on the lookout for a new striker. But would he make a good signing for them?

We’ve seen strikers leave Holland and struggle to adapt to the increase in quality of Europe’s top end leagues. Afonso Alves, for one, had a fantastic record at Heerenveen (45 goals in 39 games), but flopped spectacularly at Middlesbrough, scoring just 10 league goals in 42 games. On the other hand, the likes of Luis Suarez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have done well for themselves at Liverpool and FC Schalke respectively, after both thriving at Ajax initially.

Figuring out exactly how Finnbogason would turn out isn’t straightforward in the slightest, but he has proven at the very least that he has the ability to thrive in less than ideal circumstances, which would go a long way in helping him adapt to a stronger league. He kept his club afloat last season and is carrying it on his shoulders again, as the numbers above prove.

A hard-working, mobile striker, he can get past his opponent on occasion, having completed an average of .8 take-on’s per game so far. In addition, his link-up play is quite good. He has created 18 chances for his team-mates, which is Heerenveen’s second-highest tally, yielding three assists.

Standing at 1.84 metres, he doesn’t provide an aerial threat like Olivier Giroud, who stands at 1.92 metres, winning just 32% of his headed duels compared to the Frenchman’s 55%. But his willingness to drop deep and drift out to the flanks as well as his strength in holding up the ball should help him combine well with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, and Aaron Ramsey in the final third. He should also make a good partner for Giroud, should Wenger decide to go with two up front.

As far as goal-scoring is concerned, the numbers, mentioned before, surely speak for themselves. He loves taking the shot on, rightly feeling confident in his ability to find the back of the net. With 38 shots attempted, a high average of 4.2 per game, he ranks fourth in the league. He loves striking the ball from distance, doing so on 16 occasions, which is the league’s third-highest amount. Too often Arsenal try to walk the ball into the back of the net. Finnbogason would bring a bit more directness to the Gunners’ attack.

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A shot accuracy of 58% is very good, especially considering the high amount of shots he has taken. But what’s particularly impressive is the general placement of his efforts–low and into the corners, which is most ideal. As far as transferring his excellent goal record to a more difficult league is concerned, good placement like that gives him a good chance of doing so.

Also important is his work rate off the ball. Wenger likes his team to press their opponents high up the pitch. Finnbogason would work along very well with this, as he is currently averaging one tackle and one interception per game. He is also committing an average of 1.7 fouls per game, however, indicating that he lacks timing in the challenge, which is typical of strikers. Still, there is much about this striker for Wenger to like.

And that includes his price. Wenger may be willing to splash the cash now, as evidenced by his club-record Ozil purchase, but surely he can still appreciate a bargain. The Iceland international is unlikely to cost as much as the going rate for potent strikers these days, making the risk involved in signing him minimal from a financial perspective. Overall, though, given the hit and miss record of strikers coming out of Holland, a deal here would represent a gamble. Still, he is a player that has at least earned the right to be considered.

Published 04 Nov 2013, 09:52 IST
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