Ääritalo and Hämäläinen staying

The next post I’m gonna write won’t be about TPS, I promise, so hopefully you won’t get too bored. (I’m actually planning to write a “who’s who” of Turku football, but let’s see what that will develop into).

TPS today announced that Algerian playmaker Hamza Aït Ouamar has signed a contract until the end of season 2009. He has been on trial for a month or so and played a few Liigacup fixtures. He is good with the ball and looks like a decent playmaker, but I am not sure how good exactly he is. He has been OK, but not a magician. However, a playmaker is exactly what they need; last year TPS lost twice to Tampere United and I reckon it was mainly because there was no real playmaker and TamU won control of the midfield. Riku Riski (b. 1989) is an option, but I think he’s a bit too young to be a first team regular as a playmaker. I think he will remain a super-sub for the next couple of seasons.

Simo Valakari also extended his contract all the way to 2010. I am pleased with that, he is an excellent defensive midfielder. The contract took me by surprise, I thought he would end his career playing for a Helsinki team, since he is from Helsinki and still lives there (!). Of course, playing in Helsinki is not a foregone conclusion but Simo will be 37 by the time his contract expires so he might just end his career playing for TPS.

What I was most delighted with, however, was the news of Kasper Hämäläinen signing a new three-year deal. Earlier on, Mika Ääritalo signed a new deal as well. It is unlikely that either one should play for TPS for the entire durations of their contracts, but everyone in Finnish football will benefit for them staying for 1-2 more years: quality players will attract crowds, TPS get a decent transfer fee when the guys leave and first and foremost, Veikkausliiga looks more and more like an attractive league. Finns do not value the league too highly, but given time, with players like this, the attitudes will change.

Of course, sometimes it is more beneficial for a player to leave Finland for some bigger club at an early age. I wish there was more Finnish clubs who could hold on to their players. That would require improvement in training facilities and development in pretty much everything, but once these players stay in their Finnish clubs until they are 20+, the Finnish league will be much better.

Veikkausliiga now seems to be packed with young Finnish talents. TamU have Petrescu, HJK have Taulo, Minkenen and Sumusalo, TPS have Lehtovaara, Hämäläinen and Ääritalo…And there’s more to come, I hope. With players like these, the league has something to promote.


2 Responses

  1. That’s an interesting – and optimistic – take on things, Juha. I have a slightly less sunny outlook based on the teenagers who went abroad in thw transfer window, which I will post later today, but maybe you are right? Nobody can tell if a 16 year old is really any good. 20-21 is the age when you really get to know how good a player is, and if big clubs want to make 16 year olds independently wealthy, they might find that is not as good an education as a few seasons in a national league, earning a relative pittance.

  2. I agree, it’s optimistic and will take some time before all the young kids realize that Veikkausliiga is better than reserve matches in big countries (at least I’m under that impression). The clubs must also do something about it – it’s hard to say no when you’re offered a switch to Liverpool FC from JIPPO.

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