At last, the long-running transfer saga of Anders Svensson is finally over, with Premiership club Southampton paying Elfsborg œ800,000 for the Swedish international attacking midfielder.
Stories about the 24-year-old’s future have proved a staple diet for Swedish football journalists for quite some time. In November, he looked set to move to Sunderland, only for their manager, Peter Reid, to have second thoughts,while numerous clubs, including Fiorentina, Stuttgart, Monaco, Celtic and Benfica, were all said to be tabling bids.
There was even a report that Swedish side Malmo were hoping to recruit Svensson – using some of the œ5.5million they received from Ajax for striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But no.
The Elfsborg star had set his heart on moving beyond Scandinavia and after making a full recovery from a knee operation in April, he got his wish, signing a four-year contract with Southampton.
“It’s a great feeling,” says Svensson, a key figure in the Elfsborg team who beat AIK Stockholm on penalties in the 2001 Swedish Cup Final. “Southampton are a good club and they came in with an offer at the right time. They think I can make a good contribution.
They want to make themselves a force in the Premiership and it’s an attractive challenge. I used to support Liverpool but I’m a Southampton man now.”
Most experts in Sweden would say Southampton have picked up a bargain. Svensson is full of energy andcreativity, passes well and has a good goalscoring record for a midfielder – 43 goals in 182 matches for Elfsborg since joining them from Herstrafors in 1993.
He was justifiably voted the best midfielder in Sweden last season but is not yet an automatic choice for the national team, facing stiff competition from Niclas Alexandersson, Fredrik Ljungberg, Magnus Svensson, Daniel Andersson and Tobias Linderoth.
However, he has certainly strengthened his case this season with a batch of crucial national team goals – in the 1-0 World Cup qualifying wins against Azerbaijan and Macedonia and the 2-0 friendly victory away to Switzerland this spring, scoring both goals.
“I feel I’m ready to take a big step forward in my career,” says Svensson. “I don’t want to be forever thought of as someone with promise.” He need not have too many worries on that score.
Club Southampton (Eng)
Born July 17, 1976, in Gothenburg
Previous clubs Guldhedens IK, Herstrafors IF, IF Elfsborg
International debut November 1999, v South Africa
International caps 17 (5 goals)
Honours Swedish Cup 2001