A month ago, I relaunched my prospect Power Ranking series that I started last season. Since then, the market has been fairly quiet, more quiet than last season, even if the top player from last month’s list, Lassi Lappalainen, moved to Bologna, and then from there on loan to Impact Montreal.

With Lappalainen’s move, the ranks of top tier prospects is getting a little thin. Lucas Lingman and Lauri Ala-Myllymäki are arguably the two young players you could see making a move this month, even if neither of their teams will want to sell, and from that tier to the next, there’s quite a large gap. That’s mostly because of a couple of factors. Firstly, there have been a large amount of prospect sales in the past couple of years. It seems like Finland is slowly rehabilitating its reputation as a breeding ground for interesting footballers, which is a very good thing! Secondly, a lot of highly touted young players have failed to live up to expectations, either due to bad form, injuries or personal problems, and are therefore either not listed at all, or lower down than you would maybe have thought last year, or the year before.

Development isn’t linear, though, so a lot of the players I’m a little down on at the moment have ample time to turn it around. Albion Ademi, for example, simply hasn’t played enough this season to be considered – had he played even 500 minutes at roughly the same level as last season, he’d probably be in the top 10. It feels like guys like Eetu Vertainen and Kevin Kouassivi-Benissan are just a successful loan away from bouncing back (Kouassivi-Benissan has actually gone on loan, whereas Vertainen hasn’t). Sometimes things happen that are sub-optimal, and the way you respond to them will determine how far you go in whatever you’re doing, so I’m preaching patience.

There’s also an interesting generation of young players bubbling under – specifically attackers. Guys like Pyry Lampinen, Matias Tamminen, Sampo Ala and Jeremiah Streng are already getting starts for their respective teams. Elias Mastokangas, Arlind Sejdiu, Naatan Skyttä, Eetu Rissanen, Martin Salin, Eemeli Raittinen, Tomi Kult, Taaniel Usta are only some of the names that are starting to feel more relevant by the minute. Now it’s just up to the teams to start leaning even harder on them, to see if they bend or break.

A reminder that the I’m only covering players owned by a team in Finland, so notable prospects like Kaan Kairinen, Jude Arthur and so forth are disregarded. I’m also only interested in players younger than 23, and since age is tricky since it changes all the time, I’m going to use age seasons instead (that is, if you’re born in 2000, your age season in 2019 is 19). A reminder that I’m heavily favouring minutes played over most other statistics, as I think that it is what’s most important for young players. I’m also weighing minutes at the top tier higher than minutes at Ykkönen level, because of course I am.

2019 Graduates:

Lassi Lappalainen, Bologna

The list:

Rank (previous) Name Age Team Minutes Primary Position
1 (2) Lucas Lingman 21 RoPS 1705 MC
Lingman and Ala-Myllymäki have similar claims to the throne at the moment, and I consider them to be something of a tier of their own, as players who should probably move in this window (but probably won’t) to continue to develop. Ilmari Niskanen would be a part of this tier if he wouldn’t be showing signs of stagnation. Lingman did well against Aberdeen, and is a legitimate spark at this level. The next step is going to be HJK wether any of us like it or not, isn’t it, but I think he’d be well suited for something like the Netherlands as well.
2 (3) Lauri Ala-Myllymäki 22 Ilves 1498 AMC/CF
Too many of his goals have been penalties and direct free kicks for my liking (not that either of those categories of goals are bad, just that they are unequally distributed, and we’re projecting here), but there’s more to his game than that (he does a ton of defensive work for a forward) and there’s a strong feeling of him carrying the team on his back at times. It’s a nice story, and winning the league before heading abroad would be a nice ending of this chapter.
3 (8) Jasin-Amin Assehnoun 21 Lahti 1273 LW
Assehnoun is breaking out in a big way this season. Most metrics are looking positive, with dribbling being his strongest suit. At the moment, he mostly provides for his teammates (or shoots from pretty poor locations) so would like to see him become more of a goal threat by getting into the box more. I think there are the raw materials for a good player here, he just needs to keep going to establish himself.
4 (4) Juho Hyvärinen 19 RoPS 1736 RB
Hyvärinen is intriguing because he seems to have a lot of tools in his toolbox, the question is whether he can start to use more of them at the same time. At the moment, for a poor RoPS side, he doesn’t stand out in any particular way – which could be considered natural for a right back. But at some point he is going to have to step up, or run the risk of becoming just another guy with potential. I think he needs a move, and I wonder if he’s going to get it.
5 (7) Kalle Katz 19 RoPS (HJK) 1288 CB
Katz and Hyvärinen are similar in many ways, in that they both have a ton of potential, but similarly have a lot of questions to answer, mostly off the ball. Katz isn’t great in the air, and the more he plays, the more opponents are going to start exploiting it. He compensates by being good at carrying the ball, and passing it out of the back. Only thing is, his team isn’t always set up to utilise it. Could be better suited to play for HJK, questions is whether he will be allowed to do so.
6 (14) Eemeli Virta 19 Lahti 1405 MC
Virta gets a bit of a boost for being one of the lynchpins in Lahti’s midfield. Lahti have surprised me a little bit, by being… competent and Virta has played a big part in that. He is a good technician and a calm passer, and does a lot of defensive work for a midfielder (93d percentile in interceptions). A player to follow.
7 (18) Salomo Ojala 22 FC Haka 1430 CF
I struggle to place Ojala, not because he isn’t performing, but because I’m not sure what his upside is. At 22, it’s a fairly late breakout, and we’ve seen players with a similarish profile be ok-only at the next level. The question for Ojala is going to be whether he’s got another gear, or whether he’s going to establish himself in the Ilari Mettälä/Aristote Mboma tier of good-not-great Veikkausliiga centre forwards. Next year will be instructive, this year, let’s just enjoy the emergence of an Ykkönen level superstar.
8 (12) Severi Kähkönen 19 Jaro 869 AMC
After last month’s update, I wanted to have a closer look at Kähkönen so I watched a couple of Jaro matches, and to be honest, I liked what I saw. As I’m typing this, thinking about him, he strikes me as a Sebastian Mannström type player – quick head, quick feet, capable of receiving in tight spaces and making good decisions on the ball. Can pass, dribble and has scored a couple of goals. It’s still early, but I’d be intrigued to see how he’d look one level higher.
9 (25) Akseli Ollila 19 EIF 1288 LW
I was conservative in my placement of Ollila in the previous list, because his numbers were sort of mediocre-ish, his team was struggling, and I simply hadn’t seen him play. After watching him for a couple of games in July, I’m back on the hype train – slightly. Versus MuSa, he was absolutely unstoppable – the kind of performance that makes you sit up and pay attention. He’s young, and he has a lot nice abilities – not least of which, a tendency to score goals. He feels a bit like Lassi Lappalainen in that he can dribble some, but stands out more through smart movement off the ball.
10 (11) Anthony Olusanya 19 Jaro 1041 CF/LW
Olusanya has had a good start to the season, and he has a lot of the intangible attributes required to become a regular goalscorer like finding him in the right place at the right time, and timing his runs behind the defensive line. He does seem a little less polished than Ollila and Kähkönen, which is why he’s placed at the end of this group. Either way, 0.55 goals per 90 is something to pay attention to.
11 (17) Aapo Mäenpää 21 IFK Mariehamn 1148 RB
In terms of defensive activity, Mäenpää is putting up some really strong numbers – tackles, interceptions, challenges, aerial duels. He’s struggling somewhat with his passing, but as a lock on the right hand side, he’s a key component of IFK Mariehamn’s defence.
12 (5) Ilmari Niskanen 22 KuPS 1657 RW
As the clock strikes twelve, is Niskanen turning into a pumpkin? Was last season just a mirage? Does he have some kind of unreported lingering injury issue? He finally scored his first goal of the season in July, but he did it in such a way that I wonder if it’s going to do him more harm than good, as long shooting is an activity he should spend as little time doing as possible. Get in the box, man, where you were last season!
13 (10) Tommi Jyry 20 KuPS 931 MC
Jyry is a handy midfielder, a good passer who is fairly quick and covers a lot of ground. At the moment, though, he profiles as an Aleksi Paananen-type player, which is fairly decent in isolation, but I would like to see him add some more defensive activity, or end product, to show that he has something more in his locker.
14 (35) Yussif Moussa 21 Ilves 935 MC/AMC
I’ve watched Moussa play a little bit in the past month, and I like what I see. He seems to have a bit of everything in his locker: he shoots a lot, he tackles a lot, he intercepts a bit, he’s on the ball a lot. The big question seems to be what his best position is, but at the moment, he looks like a contributor either way.
15 (15) Axel Vidjeskog 18 Jaro 800 AMC
Stays in place for only playing 70 minutes in July. Not a criticism per se, but as Kähkönen and Olusanya have started to make themselves indispensable for a Jaro in ascendancy, Vidjeskog has ridden the bench.
16 (6) Eetu Vertainen 20 HJK 1056 CF
Vertainen only played around an hour in July, and that hour was a fairly wretched hour of football. He seemed to be dropped from the squad even before HJK started splurging some of that Lappalainen cash on attacking talent. It’s a sad state of affairs in many ways, and I really think he’d do well to go on loan somewhere. The thing that keeps my hope alive is how dominant he looked for Klubi 04 last season in the brief moments he played there – when, seemingly, he was allowed to play to his strengths as a teams’ most important attacking player. A spell at a side lower down the table could do wonders for his confidence.
17 (9) Niklas Jokelainen 19 RoPS 772 CF
Not unlike Vertainen, Jokelainen has suffered from some bad luck/bad finishing this season. Unfortunately, not unlike Vertainen, that means he’ll probably get less playing time as a result – indeed, Jokelainen has been forced to ride the pine a bit in the past month. When he plays, he’s a shot happy, dribbly, left footed striker – a lazy comparison would be… a left footed Eetu Vertainen.
18 (21) Enoch Banza 19 KPV (HJK) 1128 RW
When Enoch Banza debuted for HJK he looked like an explosive, exciting wing prospect. Since then, he’s struggled to add to his repertoire, which is why he’s been sent on loan for the season. Statistically, he’s struggling to hit the 50th percentile in most metrics – with completed dribbles and goals scored (barely) the exceptions. I still want more from him.
19 (34) Teemu Jäntti 19 Lahti 813 MC
Jäntti plays with impressive intensity and covers a lot of ground, but seems to lack a little something in terms of game intelligence. Being able to cover a variety of positions makes him a valuable piece in Lahti’s squad building. In theory, him and Virta should make for a good midfield partnership.
20 (16) Anttoni Huttunen 19 MyPA 1385 LW
Huttunen has been a rare spark for a struggling MyPA, serving as a key creative outlet on the left of their midfield. He can look his age, though, and although he has shown that he can contribute in flashes, I would like to see some more consistency from him.
21 (24) Santeri Väänänen 17 HJK 418 MC
I’m still looking for Väänänen to play a bit more to have him rise any higher. In fairness, with a couple of hundred minutes more, he’d probably be in the top 5, but he’ll have to earn it. Progress in the Europa League Qualifiers has benefitted him, as it forced HJK to rotate the squad more than usually. He’s always had bite, but now he’s started to the nice touches going forward he’s showed for the youth national team. Alex Ring is probably the closest comp at this point, but he’ll have time to establish himself as his own player if he stays at HJK.
22 (N/A) Matias Tamminen 18 RoPS 483 CF
Tamminen scored his first Veikkausliiga goal in July with a deft finish/lucky deflection – and followed it up with a nicely taken goal last week. Like so many players considered for this list, he is still mostly projection, but he’s played a decent amount for his age, and is starting to hit some level of form. He’s got the build of a good centre forward, but has some work to do to convert that size into shots and goals.
23 (30) Kevin Kouassivi-Benissan 20 RoPS (HJK) 408 RB/LW
After some early season struggles, Kouassivi-Benissan was loaned out to RoPS, which is a move I endorse wholeheartedly. At his best, he can be a wonderful attacking player, capable of carrying the ball forward at pace and finishing from different angles. At HJK, he hasn’t found that type of form yet, but in a less pressured environment (and maybe further forward) he might have the opportunity to do so.
24 (13) Mehdi El-Moutacim 19 EIF 1709 GK
El-Moutacim remains the young goalkeeper making the most noise in the top two tiers of Finnish football, although it is something of a barren field at the moment. His passing is good, but he’s struggled some with some of the more traditional aspects of goalkeeping. He’s plenty experienced for his age though, and can expect to get better the more he plays.
25 (22) Evans Mensah 21 HJK 677 RW
Mensah has played in a lot of HJK’s most important games this season, and has really struggled to make an impact. According to rumours, he was being shipped out of the club during the winter, but with little interest in his services, he stayed. In the Veikkausliiga, he is a perfectly good player, but I’m still waiting for him to take a step up.
26 (26) Sampo Ala 17 RoPS 314 CF
Ala barely played in July so stays in place. Has managed to get on the end of a decent amount of good chances in brief playing time.
27 (N/A) Jeremiah Streng 18 SJK 372 CF
Burst onto the scene during the winter cup games, but has struggled to retain his place in the side during the summer. Seems to be well thought of, and seems like a genuine centre forward prospect. Has looked decent in what little playing time he has received. Good in the air, especially for his age, and is capable of finding space in the box.
28 (23) Niilo Mäenpää 21 Inter 918 MC/AMC
Stands out more for his defensive work than anything else. Is used as something of a monkey wrench for Inter, as he’s played a lot of different positions. Not the most exciting profile, but has contributed well to the form of high-flying Inter.
29 (20) Mikko Kuningas 22 Inter 1426 MC/AMC
Much like Mäenpää, Kuningas benefits from playing a fair bit for a well functioning side. Statistically, he’s always stood out due to his end product, and he has been a creative force once again this season even if his goals have dried up a bit. Is probably one of the better players on this list, but I question whether there’s much unfulfilled upside left.
30 (32) Daniel Rantanen 21 EIF 1396 MC
Rantanen looks a man reborn for EIF – or, reborn as himself at least, as he’s still mostly himself. He has good passing range, his long cross field passes to Akseli Ollila can be a weapon, and he likes a shot, especially from range. He has end product, which is a nice, rare bonus from midfield. Not sure if he’s more than just a good Ykkönen midfielder, though.
31 (19) Martti Haukioja 19 VPS 1408 LB
Haukioja has played a lot for VPS this year, but has struggled to make an impact, much as the rest of his teammates. Is very young, which is easy to forget, considering he made his debut in 2016, so will get a chance to bounce back.
32 (27) Omar Jama 21 EIF 1358 MC
Jama seems like a classic high floor/low ceiling kind of prospect. Can look a little bored, almost, with the tempo at Ykkönen level. Would like to see him bounce back to the league next year, because he has a bunch of interesting attributes – namely, being a good passer and decent dribbler.
33 (33) Tuomas Ollila 19 KTP 1271 LB
Is coming to his own a little bit at KTP, it seems. Can be a genuine attacking threat if allowed to progress up his flank. Has a very good cross on him. Suffers from being a bit on the short side for a defender.
34 (31) Kevin Larsson 18 HIFK 465 RW
It feels like both Larsson and Joel Mattsson are probably going to lose their places in the side as HIFK’s signings settle. I hope not – both have promise, but their performances have been inconsistent. I’ve been surprised by the amount of playing time Larsson has been given, and I’ve yet to really get what kind of player he is. One to follow up on.
35 (29) Johannes Kytilä 19 MyPA 1703 CB
Is playing all the minutes for what is essentially the worst team in the top two tiers. Has a bit of prospect pedigree, but hasn’t been able to convert it into consistent quality performances quite yet.
36 (28) Momodou Sarr 19 VPS 1269 CF/RW
Sarr seems to be playing mostly due to the lack of options at VPS. He looks pretty overmatched at the moment, even if his playing a lot. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have potential, just that it’s difficult to know whether he does or not.
37 (39) Tiemoko Fofana 20 Ilves 1015 CF
Has played a fair bit for Ilves, and looks a decent player, but has yet to really start to contribute with shots and goals. Not to lean into the basic trope about African players, but he looks very capable of smartly using his body to shield the ball.
38 (37) Tommi Jäntti 19 RoPS 596 AMC
Biggest moment of his season (and maybe career) so far has been the away goal at Aberdeen. Isn’t playing a lot, but is in the team consistently. Not exactly sure what to think of him.
39 (N/A) Teppo Marttinen 22 KPV 1327 GK
Marttinen has played a lot of football for his age, which isn’t something a lot of the young goalkeepers considered can say. I’m not entirely convinced about his potential, but he’s liked enough to play, which is a good thing.
40 (42) Alexander Jibrin 21 AC Oulu 1385 CB
Jibrin is like a poor man’s Kalle Katz in some ways – an aggressive defender who can carry the ball forward, but is a little weak in the air.
41 (40) Rony Huhtala 21 MyPA 1146 CF
Huhtala has been a consistent producer of xG at Ykkönen level for three seasons now, yet has been plagued by playing for bad teams ever since leaving Honka in 2017. Still think he is far better than he’s given credit for, and I will die on this hill.
42 (N/A) Mauro Severino 20 TPV 440 RW
I like Severino a lot, but three Veikkausliiga teams have already given up on him in around two years. He looks good when he plays, but I wonder about his representation, or whether there’s something else that makes it difficult to deal with him. Can hopefully settle down and show what he can do. Is tricky and a regular producer of shots when he plays.
43 (41) Joel Mattsson 20 HIFK 1097 RW
Mattsson, much like Haukioja, seems to have been around for ages yet is only 20. Still haven’t figured out what he’s supposed to be good at, though, except doing a lot of defensive work and being quite good in the air (apparently).
44 (36) Paavo Voutilainen 20 EIF 1425 CB
Is playing a lot, but I’m not sure if he’s being challenged. He’s playing in a back three, with a lot of experience around him. Doesn’t stand out in any way, but that can be a good thing for a centre half.
45 (N/A) Simon Lindholm 17 EIF 676 MC
Lindholm is a funny looking player. He’s really tall, and can look a little clumsy, but he’s a surprisingly good dribbler. Not quite sure how to place him yet, and he could yet move both forward or back on the pitch, depending on what his strengths and weaknesses are as a player – he has the frame to do both.
46 (44) Diogo Tomas 22 Ilves 550 CB/CF
Has mostly been used as a late weapon in attack from the bench due to his impressive aerial ability. Maybe needs a move if he isn’t going to play, because he’s definitely good enough to start.
47 (47) Jonas Häkkinen 20 VPS 1420 MC/CB
Häkkinen is a versatile defensive player who is good on the ball for a defender. He’s playing for a terrible team, though, which docks him some imaginary points.
48 (43) Anton Eerola 20 KTP 1311 MC
Eerola is a bit of a unit, and he’s quite decent at using his size to his advantage. He intercepts a lot, tackles quite a lot, wins a lot of aerial duels, contests a lot of challenges. He is a bit limited in his passing, but serves a purpose in defence.
49 (46) Antti Ulmanen 20 EIF 799 CF
Ulmanen has been… alright for EIF. There aren’t a ton of young centre forwards playing regularly at either of the top two levels, so he gets the nod for being one of them.
50 (N/A) Joonas Lakkamäki 17 MuSa 528 RB
Lakkamäki is a youth international right back, and it’s starting to look like he might be breaking through at Ykkönen level as well. Haven’t seen a lot of him to be honest, but will keep an eye out.

Bubbling under

Elias Mastokangas – scored his first senior goal, and has started a couple of games – a personal favourite of mine since a couple of years back.

Taaniel Usta – scored on his debut for KTP, looks quick and physical for his age.

Pyry Lampinen – managed to score two goals in two starts in July, needs to play more though.

John Fagerström – is a bit older, but has looked good after his switch to center forward, could be a candidate to do a Salomo Ojala next season.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be trying to update the list at a monthly pace, so follow me on Twitter if you’re interested!


One thought on “2019 Finnish League Prospects Power Ranking – August update

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