The European transfer window opened on Swedish football, and the Allsvenskan may never be the same.
by Chipp Reid
It seems as though the rest of the league finally found a way to ground high-flying Allsvenskan leaders Helsingborgs: Transfers.
Helsingborg essentially reshaped its team following the close of the summer transfer season—the period when clubs can sign players under contract with other teams. Helsingborg, which is in first place in the Allsvenskan with 55 points, lost its top scorers, midfield playmaker and a key defender to other teams in Europe. In all, nine players left Olympia Stadium, with the club bringing in six new players, including a trio of Norwegians.
The changes make Helsingborg a very different—although very wealthy—club. HIF reportedly earned nearly $10 million from players, the bulk of which came when it sold Alexander Gerndt to Dutch outfit Utrecht. Helsingborg also took in about $2 million for Rasmus Jönsson, who moved to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg. In addition, defender Marcus Nilsson also went to Utrecht while midfielder Marcus Bergholtz moved to Staebaeck in Norway. Defender Peter Larsson also left the team, returning to FC Copenhagen after his six-month loan expired.
In all, Helsingborg lost six starting players in Larsson, Nilsson, Gerndt, Jönsson, Bergholtz and Joel Ekstrand, who earlier left the team to play for Genoa in Italy.
Helsingborg, to make up for those losses, bought Alvaro Santos from Örgryte after a protracted battle with GAIS for his contract. The league leaders also bought Norwegian defender Erlend Hanstveit from Belgian club Gent and Norwegian midfielder Thomas Sørum from FK Haugesund in Norway. HIF also grabbed three players on loan—Icelandic striker Guðjón Pétur Lýðsson from Valur in Iceland, Jørgen Skjelvik from Stabæk in Norway and Swedish striker Sebastian Carlsen from Inter Milan in Italy, where he was a ‘B’ team player.
All the newcomers were on the bench Sept. 9 when Helsingborg took on BK Häcken. Santos and Hanstveit entered the match late as HIF settled for a 1-1 with the Göteborg side.
AIK, true to its word, used its best two players to help right the club’s finances as it sold both Sierra Leone internationals named Bangura for big money. AIK banked more than $6 million when it sold Ibrahim Teteh Bangura to Bursapor in Turkey and reaped another $3.5 million in a deal with Glasgow Celtic for Mohamed Bangura. To replace the striking duo, which scored 22 of AIK’s 40 goals this season, the Gnaget bought Togo international striker Lalawele Atakori from Fredrikstad in Norway as well as South African striker Kwame Amponsah Karikari.
Despite losing its top two scorers, AIK remains in second place in the standings with 50 points. The Solna club has won two straight matches since the deals, with its latest win coming Sept. 15, 2-0 on Mjallby at Strandvallen.
The Råsunda side also took major steps toward righting what was a rapidly sinking economic ship. AIK entered the year $2 million in the red and racked up another $550,000 in losses this season before the Bangura deals. Now, the club says its economic position is completely in the black and it even announced plans to begin to explore building a new stadium. AIK shelved those plans earlier in the year when it was obvious it didn’t have the money to proceed.
BK Häcken also earned big in the transfer season, selling its top-two players. John Chibuike, with seven goals and six assists, moved to Norwegian giants Rosenborg. Mathias Ranegie, the league’s leading scorer, went to Malmö FF in what both clubs called the largest-ever transfer between two Swedish teams. Neither team would reveal the amount, although media reports put it the transfer fee in the neighborhood of $3 million.
If correct, the fee for Ranegie along with the $2.5 million Hacken received for Chibuike would give the Goteborg team a war chest of more than $5 million. The club has already spent some of those earnings, picking up a pair of Brazilians from Cruzeiro in Maranhao and Deivisson. Häcken also lured former IFK Göteborg midfielder Andres Vasquez back from FC Zurich in Switzerland and swooped for 19-year-old Oscar Lewicki, who was languishing on the developmental team at Bayern Munich.
Häcken was in fourth place prior to all the moves and now sits in fifth with 39 points.
Third-place Elfsborg held fast with its team, although it did loan James Keene to Fredrikstad of Norway. Keene was the team’s “super sub” although he reportedly has been unhappy with how head coach Magnus Hedlund has used him.
Fourth-place GAIS made a series of moves, sending seven players off on loan.
Loans tend to indicate interest from a club in a player but provide the club the chance to see the player without forking over a large transfer fee. At the end of a loan, the team receiving the player usually has the option of buying the player outright. The teams share the player’s salary.
GAIS sold off unhappy forward Razak Omotoyossi to Syrianska and made a deal with Utrecht in Holland for midfielder Johan Martensson.
Defending league champions Malmö, mired in ninth place in the Allsvenskan, looked to strengthen its team for a run in the UEFA Europa League by breaking the bank to acquire Mathias Ranegie from Hacken. Ranegie is the current top scorer in the Allsvenskan with 18 goals in 22 goals for BKH. He has yet to score for Malmo in two matches.
MFF also snapped up Swedish Under-21 international defender Miko Albornoz from Superettan side Brommapojkarna.
Örebro, which started the season with thoughts of a gold medal, continued to remake its team. U.S. International Alejandro Bedoya moved to Glasgow Rangers for $1.8 million while Michael Almebäck went to Belgian side Brugge for nearly $2 million. To replace them, OSK turned to loans, picking up Panama international striker Brunet Hay from Sporting San Miguelito, Finnish striker Dennis Abdulahi from Viking Reykjavik. Örebro also picked up Finnish midfielder Riku Riski from Widzew Lodz in Poland and bought Icelandic striker Eidur Aron Sigbjornsson from IBV in Iceland.
Neither team revealed terms for the deal.
In all, 70 players left the 16 Allsvenskan teams while 47 moved in.
For all the players moves in the Allsvenskan, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Swedish_football_transfers_summer_2011#cite_note-60