Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak has been hailed as one of Euro 2020’s breakout stars after another strong display in Sweden’s 1-0 Group E win over Slovakia in St Petersburg wowed football fans on Friday.
The 21-year-old illuminated what was otherwise a pretty drab affair at Krestovsky Stadium.
Long before Emil Forsberg’s 77th-minute deciding penalty, which Isak won through his trickery, the imposing 6ft 3in target man had already won over supporters.
Along with Italy’s Manuel Locatelli, the former Borussia Dortmund man is already being touted as one of the tournament’s leading breakout stars.
6 – Aleksander Isak completed six dribbles today (six attempted); most by a player in a game at EURO 2020 so far, and most by a Swedish player in a game at the tournament since Tomas Brolin at EURO 1992 (7 v Denmark). Talent. #EURO2020 #SWE pic.twitter.com/FJBs9jNImf
— OptaIvan (@OptaIvan) June 18, 2021
As he broke a competition record for the most completed dribbles (6) thus far, and the most by a Swedish player in a Euros game since the great USA ’94 semifinalist Tomas Brolin at Euro 1992 against eventual winners Denmark, Isak was dubbed a “talent” and a “baller” from all corners.
What has impressed the most is his agility despite being such a tall man, with his strength, as shown in the clips below, also helping him to hold off the opposition and pass them with ease while skillfully knocking the ball from one foot to the other.
He’s so quick, guy just glides. He’s got that strikers selfish gene as well 🤣 pic.twitter.com/bq41H8nsKA
— Don Daig (@Don_Daig) June 18, 2021
His 71st minute run reproduced above, where Isak took out a handful of hapless foes, many of who ended up on their backs, while he somehow kept his balance, was dubbed an instant goal of the tournament had it gone in.
Yet even without a successful strike to his name today, the youngster had already done enough to convince the jury.
“Don’t think there’s much doubt that Alexander Isak will attract a lot of attention from clubs across Europe. Exceptional talent,” remarked BBC pundit and England legend Gary Lineker, while ESPN quipped that he had the “whole Slovakia team on strings”.
Certified baller ✅
Alexander Isak = Star of the Match after another majestic display 🥇
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 18, 2021
Flooding out of Krestovsky Stadium after witnessing Isak’s performance first-hand, Sweden fans were no less gushing in their praise.
“He deserved to score at least one today,” one Sweden fan crowed.
“He was the number one player. It’s so nice to see him changing the game.”
When asked if Isak had the potential to match all-time Swedish great Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the fan replied with a smile, “he’s already better than Zlatan!”
“He’s always good, he’s our main man,” agreed another fan.
“He could be [the next Zlatan]. He’s totally ready for a big club. He’s already scored a lot of goals in La Liga.”
Isak won the penalty which led to Sweden’s win. © Reuters
Others, though, were a bit more cautious in the praise.
“He’s so good, so many clubs are interested in him. But no one can compare to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Close, but not at the same level,” said one fan.
Unsurprisingly, Isak won the Star of the Match gong thanks to completing the most passes ending in final third (23), the most touches in the opposition box (8), the most completed take-ons (6), the most shots (4) and the most aerial duels won.
La Liga were quick to post highlights of his finest exploits in a La Real shirt, and capitalize on his newfound popularity.
A giant in attack for #SWE!
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) June 18, 2021
Aleksander Isak vs. #SVK
◉ =Most passes ending in final third (23)
◉ Most touches in the opp box (8)
◉ Most take-ons completed (6)
◉ Most shots (4)
◉ =Most aerial duels won (4)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 18, 2021
Yet at this rate, unless one of Spain’s Big Three snap him up, he won’t be long for a move away from the Iberian Peninsula.
Also important to consider is that Borussia Dortmund can beat everyone to the chase by exercising a measly $35.5 million release clause to see him back in the Bundesliga, with many parties encouraging them to cash in on Erling Haaland now for around $180 million and keep the change before a clause of his own is activated next summer for a lesser $89 million.