Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Henrik Larsson. Gunnar Nordahl. Sweden has a long history of producing talented attackers, and more Swedish attackers are tearing up leagues all over Europe. However, there’s one player that fans should be more excited to see than any other: 18-year old sensation Williot Swedberg.
Swedberg isn’t like those other attackers. For a starter, he’s not a striker. While Nordahl and Zlatan both topped Italy’s scoring charts as strikers, Swedberg lies deeper in midfield. He can function as a center midfielder, attacking midfielder, and even left winger. Despite this, he still bags goals: only two players in the Swedish Allsvenskan have more than Williot’s five.
Swedberg also doesn’t come from one of Sweden’s traditional top clubs. Granted, Hammarby have one of Sweden’s biggest fanbases and relative success, but they’ve only ever won the league once, and not for 21 years. That could change this year thanks to him, with Hammarby near the top of the table after ten games. Yeah, the Swedish schedule is odd—but then again, so is the MLS, and I write about that plenty.
The rise of Williot Swedberg has been coming for some time. Back in 2019, he went on trial with Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, but a permanent move didn’t materialize. In 2021 he was named one of the Guardian’s Top 60 young talents, alongside the likes of Gavi and Emre Demir. It looked like Swedberg was finally on the move when he agreed to join Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow in February, but that move broke down after Russia invaded Ukraine.
It’s probably a good thing he didn’t move. Last season, he played a rotational role, with only eight starts and two goals. This year, he’s already started more games and scored more than twice as many goals (five). Did I mention Hammarby are only ten matches into the season? With his strong performances came the season’s first Player of the Month award, and he’s continuing to gain steam.
A big part of his boost in performance is his change in position. Last season, he functioned mainly as a box-to-box center-midfielder, dropping back to intercept passes and win tackles in addition to his attacking role. This season, however, Hammarby are focusing on his attacking strengths. Swedberg is playing almost completely on the left-wing this season, with the occasional appearance at striker.
In attack, Swedberg is able to utilize his skills to the max. Being on the left means he can drift inside and shoot with his preferred right foot, reverse Arjen Robben-style. He’s by no means poor with his left foot, though, and can use it to send cutting through balls as well as rip a shot. His dribbling and ability to find space is also fully on display as Swedberg goes forward.
Unsurprisingly, the Swede is receiving interest from a variety of clubs. Barcelona, Manchester United, and Celta Vigo are reportedly fans of Swedberg, who is keen on a potential Barcelona move. A move to Spain would make sense as he has spent time in Valencia, which could open up a move to Valencia CF as well. Wherever he goes, the Swede will surely star.
Image Courtesy of User:Rolandhino1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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