Player: Benjamin Källman
Teemu Pukki is one of the most recognizable names in Finnish football, mostly because of his knack for being in the right place at the right time.
At Boll, we pride ourselves in taking an active role in the development of our players. When we teamed up with Benjamin Källman, he was a promising young forward from a little town at the midpoint between Helsinki and Turku. He was a physically mature teenager who had broken into the first-team squad of his local team, something that had caught the attention of the youth national team set-up.
Our plan for Benjamin was to locate him in an environment where he could keep challenging himself, while not rushing his development unnecessarily. Inter Turku was a natural landing spot for him, partly because it was close to home for him, partly because it is a club with a high standard of doing things – especially for Finland – and partly because we knew that Benjamin would get his chance in the first team as long as he trained well and showed his potential.
During his first season at Inter, he received a decent amount of minutes, at different attacking positions – sometimes as a winger, sometimes as a centre forward. His performances varied in quality, but in the end he managed to score his first Veikkausliiga goal, and at the end of the season had bagged two goals in total, while also spending time on loan at EIF in the second tier of Finnish football.
After his debut Veikkausliiga season, we had a look at his performances and decided to work on emphasizing his strengths rather than try to work on his weaknesses. Benjamin is a very hard working, conscientious trainer, which is particularly visible from his physique. He can be a real bully on the pitch when he puts his mind to it. He is at his most effective when in the box, moving onto passes or crosses and finishing first time. We saw this as his greatest strength, and together decided to accentuate this part of his game even further in the coming year.
During his second season, Källman had some early struggles in getting game time, mostly due to Inter having something of a bloated, top-heavy squad. As the season wore on, however, Källman’s performances put him squarely in the position of first choice centre forward, even pushing players like Inter legend Timo Furuholm out to the wing. Källman managed to score 9 goals in his second season, but through advanced metrics, we could tell that the things that we had worked on during the offseason had borne fruit. His cumulative Expected Goals of 0.57 per 90 minutes played was the most impressive total from a teenager in our whole dataset (spanning the seasons 2013-), and his 0.26 xG/Shot was the highest overall from all attackers in our dataset. His very impressive form was rewarded with a call-up to the full National Team squad in January, and he made his debut versus Oman shortly after.
For the next season, we have emphasized the need for getting more shots. Getting into good locations is absolutely key, but it is equally important for a centre forward to be a consistent threat throughout the full 90 minutes. His 2017 total of 2.17 shots per 90 is ok-to-good, but increasing it to over 3 would indicate that there is very little left to prove for him in Finland, and that the next step in his career would be approaching.
At the moment, Benjamin Källman is one of the most intriguing centre forward prospects in all of the Nordics, and we are privileged to play even a small part in this young man’s trek to the stars.