Elfsborg building a better mouse trap
The winter transfer period came and went with little fanfare until the window was about to close. Defending champions IF Elfsborg bolstered its side in a big way for both the Allsvenskan and Champions League when it swooped to grab Mohamed Bangura on loan from Glasgow Celtic. The Sierra Leone international seemed ready to re-join AIK, where his career took off, when Elfsborg jumped into the loan discussions. AIK made an offer, but Celtic rejected it, said AIK chief scout Björn Wesström. Elfsborg , in its bid, offered to pick up nearly 40 percent of Bangura’s estimated $40,000-a-month salary. Bangura scored 17 goals in 44 matches for AIK but failed to find the find in 11 games for Celtic. Bangura joins an Elfsborg side that has loaded up on talent as it looks to become the first Swedish team in two decades to reach the group stage of the Champions League. Elfsborg had a war chest after selling Oscar Hiljemark to PSV Einfhoven in Holland. The defending champions bought Norwegian international midfielder Henning Hauer from Hannover 96 in Germany and picked up highly rated central defender Tom Söderberg from BK Häcken. “We are building a team to win,” said Elfsborg general manager Stefan Andreasson. “And by winning I don’t mean just this year but five years from now.”

Helsingborg waiting for Bedoya decision
Helsingborg wants to keep American international midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, seeing the New Jersey native as an important piece of its championship run, Bedoya, however, is the subject of intense interest from clubs in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Although he appears set to sign a short-term contract with Helsingborg that would keep him in Skåne through the summer. He may not be alone. HIF is reportedly chasing form IFK Norrkoping front man Astrit Ajdarevic in a loan deal from Standard Liege in Belgium, where he has yet to make an impact after a move last summer. HIF are also in talks with Genoa about the possibility of bringing former Hammarby hit man Linus Hellenius back to Sweden. Hellenius had had a horrific time of it in Italy, failing to score or even break into the first team, although he reportedly has no interest in returning to Sweden.

Gelfe ‘keeper a keeper
Gelfe knows a good thing when it sees one, no matter how old. The Gävle club gave 38-year-old goalkeeper Mattias Hugosson a 1-year extension that keeps him with the club through the 204 season. The club also handed 34-year-old defender Daniel Bernhardsson a year-long extension. Hugosson, in the 2011, came within 11 minutes of beating Mattias Asper’s record shutout streak. Last season, Hugosson led the Allsvenskan in shots faced and saves made and had 11 shutouts. “It is gratifying that two players long been the backbone of the team are returning this year. It also means that the core of the squad who showed such great shape during the fall is there next season. So we have good prospects for 2013, Gefle manager Pelle Olsson told club’s Web site.

Hype hits new heights
When Sweden takes on Argentina under the dome Feb. 6 at the Friends Arena in Solna, it will mark the first time two of the world’s preeminent forwards have faced one another. Argentine Lionel Messi, the four-time defending FIFA World Player of the Year, and Paris St. Germain front man Zlatan Ibrahimovic have played against one another in their club colors but never in their national team duds. Messi, who plays for Barcelona, is, at least right now, the best player on the planet. Zlatan is, in his own mind, the best player in the planet. The Swedish media have hyped the match to boiling point, even making a joke by 37-year-old Anders Svensson into a fighting slogan. Svensson, when asked how he could cope with Messi tearing through the midfield, quipped, “Well, how is he going to stop me?” Still, the focus of the match is on the anticipated shootout between Messi and Zlatan and the Swede, for a change, is actually acting humble. “As far as I am concerned, he is the best player in the world, no doubts,” Ibrahimovic said. “He has won so many individual prizes and awards. It is just fun to be out there on the same field, at the same time, with the best player in the world.”

Gerzic impresses at Göteborg
After a 7-million kronor move from Orebro to IFK Göteborg, Nordic Gerzic expected a lot. So did IFK head coach Mikael Stahre, the club’s board of directors and the team’s fans. Unfortunately for Gerzic, a lingering injury, expectations set way too high and an all-around dismal year for Goteborg meant a forgettable first year in blue and white. Now healthy and hungry to show his quality, Gerzic is doing just that. He started all three of Göteborg’s matches at the Copa del Sol in La Manga, Spain, and showed he is ready to break into the starting XI. “He has really shown that he is ready and we need his quality,” said Stahre. “Maybe last year we rushed him a little too much, maybe I rushed him too much, but we definitely need his quality and his passing skills. He can make a big difference for us.” Göteborg essentially kept the team it assembled last season to much fanfare. The biggest addition came when IFK snapped up goalkeeper Marcus Sandberg, giving the team two No. 1 keepers. IFK also won the bidding war for Under-21 defender Ludwig Augustinsson.