21 Striker Borussia Dortmund Finland
2014 has been...
The emergence of kid strikers Joel Pohjanpalo and Tim Väyrynen has been one of the most exciting things to happen to Finnish football for a number of years...or at least since Jari Litmanen. Making a significant impact at HJK and Honka respectively, the youthful pair attracted the attention of many European sides and the number of scouts in attendance at Veikkausliiga matches swelled accordingly.
Pohjanpalo, who had been a revelation at HJK, was the first to move, rejecting Liverpool’s advances in order to sign for Bayer Leverkusen in mid 2013, while Väyrynen, the elder of the two by a year, would not be far behind.
Making his debut for Honka within weeks of his seventeenth birthday, Tim Väyrynen quickly became a regular starter for his hometown club but rarely contributed more than an hour in games as coach Mika Lehkosuo sensibly allowed his protégé to grow. As Väyrynen began to fill out, his physical presence became a more significant factor in matches and goals began to flow.
Just prior to us publishing the #IBWM100 for 2014 in December last year, Väyrynen had ended the season as the Veikkausliiga top scorer and won the player of the year title. He was scoring regularly for the Finland Under-21 side and had been capped twice by his country. An eight-goal haul in his final six matches for the Espoo club was a nice send off for a player that would invariably be moving on within a matter of months.
The mid term European transfer window offered Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund an opportunity to act and Väyrynen was duly acquired on January 10 for around £300k. Clearly not yet ready for the immediate leap into Klopp’s first team plans, Väyrynen hooked up with David Wagner’s Dortmund II in Germany’s 3 Liga and scored on his debut against MSV Duisberg in late February. A promising start.
However, that goal really has been the pinnacle of 2014 and what has ensued since has been a steep descent for a player that started the year with the world at his feet. What a fickle game this is.
Having had time to adjust to life in Germany, Väyrynen was able to count on a full pre season with his new club and the second half of this year really should have yielded opportunity. However, he has been used sparingly but when the chance to play has arrived the Dortmund fans we spoke to have been utterly scathing in their assessment: ‘useless’, ‘anonymous’, ‘lazy’, ‘how can he be an international?’. Ouch.
While a lot of criticism has been levied at the rigid tactics Wagner has maintained (unquestionably part of the Dortmund way), the current group of young players in the second string at Dortmund have shown precious little to suggest they can cut it at a higher level this term. They may well have been useful given Dortmund’s limp Bundesliga showing of late.
Where Väyrynen goes from here is a tough one to call. The less cynical will point to a player that really needs service to thrive, but fellow forward Tammo Harder has been able to make a decent go of what has been available to him. The German is a year younger than Väyrynen, but has looked ten times the player this season and provides a benchmark for the Finn. If there is an opportunity to promote from within anytime soon, the currently fathoms out of his depth Väyrynen will be well down the pecking order should Jürgen call.
We’ve been left with more questions than answers when it comes to Tim Väyrynen and really can’t understand how such an impressive player has collapsed into obscurity. His inclusion in The 100 was no random selection, and the fact that one of Europe’s most progressive clubs picked him up is testimony to how good he had been in Finland. Is this even the same player?
Contrast Väyrynen’s current position with that of Joel Pohjanpalo, who has been in scintillating form whilst on loan to Fortuna Düsseldorf and is very likely to break into the first team at Bayer Leverkusen in 2015. The difference between the two is now at polar opposite stage when it once looked like their careers would run parallel. They still could of course, but don’t expect alignment anytime soon.
A loan move might be an option, but there will be few takers in Germany based on what they’ve seen of late. A return to Finland might be a proposition too, even for the short term, but with a dreadful year behind him and no immediate prospect of an upturn in fortune, 2014 has been a year to forget.
"Has struggled to settle in and fire on all cylinders since joining but still deserves patience and benefit of the doubt for time being." - Cris Nyari
E You really need to score some goals.
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