Alhassan Yusuf will be one of several new signings who will be expected to make immediate impact at ambitious Belgian club Royal Antwerp, according to a special report by Voetbalnieuws.be
With the exception of one strange incoming transfer, Royal Antwerp FC have launched a major transfer offensive in the current summer transfer window.
Jelle Bataille (KV Oostende), Björn Engels (Aston Villa), Michael Frey (Fenerbahçe) and Michel-Ange Balikwisha (Standard) are all players who can make a direct impact, while the expected sporting added value of Dinis Almeida (Lokomotiv Plovdiv) rather raises big questions.
But the transfer drive of the highly ambitious Antwerp FC has still not ended.
Antwerp FC have picked up again with the arrival of Alhassan Yusuf, a 20-year-old central midfielder from IFK Göteborg.
The Antwerp team had been looking for a replacement for the recently departed strongman Martin Hongla (Hellas Verona/Italy) for quite some time and they found him in Sweden.
Yusuf played at Gothenburg mainly as a dynamic midfielder and in addition, the talented Nigerian can also play as a number six.
ANDERLECHT AND FC BARCELONA
In the summer of 2019, the then 18-year-old Alhassan Yusuf was already high on the wish list of RSC Anderlecht. With a delay of two years, the talented midfielder will still appear in the Jupiler Pro League, although it is now at Antwerp FC.
In 2019 Yusuf was in balance at Anderlecht with Brecht Dejaegere, who was forced to the exit at AA Gent at the time because he was unable to convince Jess Thorup. In the end, both Yusuf and Dejaegere did not make the switch to the Lotto Park.
RSC Anderlecht were certainly not the only club that showed serious interest in Alhassan Yusuf in the summer of 2019.
Various national and international media also reported the interest of, among others, Sheffield United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, FC Copenhagen and Feyenoord.
Some time ago, when Yusuf was still a teenager, the names of Ajax and FC Barcelona were even mentioned. So it must be that the Nigerian has a few things to offer.
Alhassan Yusuf eventually stayed on board at IFK Göteborg, where in 2019 – after less than two years at the highest level of football – he was named Sweden’s Young Player of the Year. He was picked ahead of Benjamin Nygren (KRC Genk, ex-IFK Göteborg) and Odilon Kossounou (Club Brugge, ex-Hammarby) in that order.
Meanwhile, Yusuf already has 77 official matches for the Swedish top club and that experience ensured that the Nigerian continued to develop at lightning speed.
THE NEW SIDE
“He is a ball winner and a genius too”, Olle Sultan, head scout at IFK Göteborg, already praised Alhassan Yusuf in the Swedish press.
“He still has a few things to learn, but he can become really good. His development is quite impressive and I have always believed in him. He has learned to be less naïve.”
So, it has been clear for some time that Yusuf was ready to push to a more highly regarded football competition.
For a long time, it looked like the next step in Alhassan Yusuf’s career would be in England. He has attracted the attention of Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the past, but in recent weeks Yusuf has also been on the radar of Brentford and Leicester City.
The Nigerian has also been described by various media, with a slight sense of exaggeration of course, as ‘the new Ngolo Kanté’.
Yusuf also stated in the Swedish press that he dreams of one day playing in the Premier League.
PLACES GET EXPENSIVE
At the age of 20 it is obviously very difficult, if not impossible, to make a direct impact in the intensive and demanding Premier League. That is why Alhassan Yusuf first takes a sensible intermediate step at Antwerp FC, where he can play himself even more to interest the clubs from the Premier League.
To force his departure from IFK Göteborg, Yusuf even changed agents. He left the renowned players’ agent Patrick Mörk and had his interests looked after by the Stellar Group, which not coincidentally has a large clientele in the Premier League and therefore also good connections with the clubs there.
It is now up to Alhassan Yusuf to effectively realise all the good things that are written and told about him at Antwerp FC.
Depending on the tactical nuances and emphasis of the new coach Brian Priske, the Nigerian will have to compete with Birger Verstraete, Frank Boya, Faris Haroun, Alexis De Sart and Pieter Gerkens.
The signing of Yusuf will in any case heighten the competition in Antwerp’s central midfield and perhaps even take him to a higher level.
Adapted from Voetbalniuews.be