Showing posts with label Holland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holland. Show all posts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Far-flung Finns - Niklas Moisander

Part three in the series of Finns playing elsewhere features defender 27-year-old Niklas Moisander, currently turning out for Dutch giants Ajax.

This past week has seen Ajax eliminated from Group D of the Champions League, and one fewer Finn involved in UEFA's premier tournament in the new year - only Teemu Pukki of Schalke is likely to still be involved by February. They are still ahead of Manchester City in the race for the Europa League, but with a final game away to Real Madrid, it's nowhere near certain (however City have to travel to Dortmund).

 Niklas attempts to endear himself to Arsenal fans

Moisander was a slightly surprising transfer in August 2012, returning to a club where he failed to make an appearance in a three year spell there from 2003-06. Ajax had sold Jan Vertonghen to Tottenham, and needed a replacement. The Finn had been doing well for AZ Alkmaar, winning the league title in 2009, so one imagines that he must have been promised regular games.

But things aren't going smoothly so far, Moisander was sent off in the match at Feyenoord, where Dutch tactics blog 11tegen11 identified Niklas as almost a sure thing for a booking in that Feyenoord match, and in nine league games has three yellows and that red. Ajax are currently fourth in the Eredivisie table, nine points behind leaders PSV. Despite their attacking talents of Eriksen, Fischer and de Jong, Ajax have conceded 16 goals in 13 matches.

In an interview with (in Dutch after re-signing, Niklas talks of the struggles of his first spell at the club, but praises how he developed as a player, and plans to become an example to the younger players at the club.

Frank de Boer and Marc Overmars show off their new signing

Having left Finland at such a young age (he only played 17 matches for TPS), he seems very settled in Holland - although he has been linked with Newcastle United in England. He's getting more games at Ajax, more exposure, and European football - he even scored against Man City and Real Madrid.

His thirty Finland caps seems a small figure, but having only made his debut in 2008, is now the captain and looks set to be a regular fixture. But he has work to do at Ajax, and such a transient team needs stability to try to and defend their title.

On international duty vs Hungary in 2010