TRANSLATED : Mikael Soisalo: Finland’s answer to Gareth Bale?

Article By: Michael Reis
published on 02.02.2017 – 18:43

Every week the SPORTBILD-Scout presents one of the big talents in Europe. This week he puts Middlesbrough’s Mikael Soisalo under the magnifying glass.
Mikael Soisalo – Striker

Age 18 (24 April 1998)

Club : Middlesbrough FC

As a child, Mikael Soisalo often had to be very strong. While his brother Sylvester (25) playing football in Helsinki with his friends, Mikael was often dismissed because he was still too small. “Then he used to cry. But he always looked for playmates his own age or shot the ball against the wall, “recalls Sylvester.

At some point, however, he was able to compete with the bigger lads. “This certainly helped him to develop,” says Sylvester. FC Honka Espoo, 20 minutes north-west of Helsinki, was Mikael’s first club. He was five years old.His talent was quickly recognisable, “When he was eight years old, he scored over 100 goals in a season.”

At HJK Helsinki, he was to take the next step in his development. He stayed there for two years before gaining more experience at Klubi 04 in the Finnish capital. “But somehow the chemistry with the coach was not there, He hardly played. That was a little disappointing, “his brother explains.

Coach Jarko Wiss of FC Ilves in Tampere then convinced Mikael to join in 2016. Wiss had already coached Soisalo in the Finnish national team. “Actually, the plan was that he would be a fringe player at Ilves with the pros. But then everything changed, “Sylvester remembers. Mikael became a regular. In 31 games, he scored seven goals and assisted six. He was chosen as young player of the season and also made Team of the Year for the Finnish Veikkausliiga. “There were many inquiries from abroad. From Germany too.

A concrete request then came from Middlesbrough, “says Sylvester. Mikael had to decide quickly. He was with his girlfriend on New Year’s Eve in Paris. After two nights, however, he was told to pack suitcases and go to England.

In Middlesbrough, the next stage of his development is to be carefully managed – in the U-23’s.

Mikael lived alone on the island, just like his year in Ilves. “This self-sufficiency has helped him a lot,” says Sylvester, who often talks with his brother. Sylvester is a cook and Mikael loves to stand behind the stove in the kitchen. “He’s already calling and asking how he can best refine his meals,” laughs Sylvester.

Mikaels idol and model is Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.

Soisalo is fast-paced. His start from the first few meters is explosive and almost impossible to counter. If he has space and the ball at feet, almost every attack is dangerous. Because of his speed, he is also compared to Gareth Bale. Soisalo works hard as a striker and extremely well with his back to goal. He is strong to a degree and always looks to find the free man.

Even if Soisalo is well marked in the box, his game makes it easy to score often. “he will pull something surprising out of his hat, which the opponent does not expect,” his brother explains. For the physicality of the strong English game, Mikael will have to add muscle. He could also do with improving his heading game.

In Finland, Soisalo has been the biggest talent for years. In the U-19’s he is a star. Middlesbrough have reacted the fastest. With a transfer fee in the low six-digit range Boro are not taking any risks. Soisalos contract runs until 2020. Brother Sylvester is also satisfied. “This is exactly the right club for Mikael. Ambitious, but not as in focus as the top clubs. If he becomes trusted, he could be facing a great career.”


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