After the signing of Marko Arnautovic, it seemed our transfer activity was over but then out of nowhere we sign the young Sead Haksabanovic. What do we know about him? He’s an 18-year-old from Halmstads BK, the same club a young Freddie Ljungberg came from but hopefully Sead will be more successful in a West Ham shirt!
He plays across the midfield but tends to play from the left-hand side, and despite his age, Sead has already clocked up an impressive 58 senior appearances with 12 goals.
Having represented Sweden until the under 19s, Sead switched his allegiance to Montenegro and has already had his debut at senior level. To be noticed at such a young age for senior football and to have been capped internationally, he must have been impressive. So I reached out to some Halmstads BK fans to fi nd out more about the young talent.
First, I asked Jesper Ulhén, supporters liaison officer, and Samuel Anderson, chairman of the official supporters club in Halmstad, what they thought Sead’s best attributes are. ‘I would say it’s that he always works hard, both in offence and defence. His technique is also one of his best sides’, said Jesper.
Samuel boasted Sead’s technical talent: ‘His best attributes are definitely his vision and technique. ‘His first touch is very good and he’s got that low balance which makes him hard to catch, he looks a little bit like Hazard in his style of play. ‘He also works very hard for the team, which is not very usual for a technical player’
This shows a lot of promise, and a player who works hard for the team in both phases of play is always a great asset. So Sead is technically gifted, a lot of 18 year olds are. What are his weaknesses? Lasse Brink, another Halmstads fan, pointed out a couple. ‘His worst quality is that he can be a little too in love with the ball and also he needs to be stronger in the body.’
Jesper and Samuel also pointed out that he can sometimes disappear in games. ‘Most likely because he was our best offensive weapon and therefore got the most attention from our opponents,’ Jesper added. Sead can work on his strength and will still be developing his body, likewise a ball-hogging trait is a good to sign of confidence in a young player and he will learn when to pass and when not to with experience.
Furthermore he is less likely to be targeted by opposition in the Premier League, due to our strong team across the pitch. Despite being so young, I was told of Sead’s qualities that you do not always see from a young player. Jesper told me: ‘What makes Sead so special is that he is so smart even though he’s just 18-years-old. His pitch awareness is like a 30-year-old’.
Samuel added: ‘He cares very much for the fans. He always takes the time to talk and is a very nice kid.’ That’s not to say every footballer should be a kind 30-year-old, but these qualities show a maturity, and a good attitude and approach to the game which is why he will develop into a better footballer. Sead also is a smart career man, rejecting offers from clubs such as Liverpool and both Manchester sides. This was to play senior football for Halmstads instead, this certainly would be paid less and isn’t as cushy as the Premier league. But it’s what he needed and regular football to show off his talent and develop.
Although I was warned by Samuel that we may well be a stepping stone for Sead, but with the current silly money being paid there could be a lot of profit to be had this way. I was urged by Samuel and Jesper that we give time to this great talent. Samuel said: ‘Take care of him and be patient. I promise he will make great things at your club. I think that in two to three years he will play week in week out for West Ham. Give him time and encouragement and he will in time become a favourite in the east end of London.’
So Sead probably won’t be an instant hit, like we hope our other summer signings will be. But he is ‘one for the future’ and one to keep a close eye on. For £3 million, it is smart business and worth taking a risk on what could be another Ljungberg in his Arsenal days.