Anel Ahmedhodzic: Things to Know About the Young Bosnian Defender

Oct 31, 2020, 12:50 PM GMT
Bosnia and Herzegovina v Northern Ireland - Play-Off Semi-Finals
Chelsea are believed to be looking at the young defender | Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

The transfer rumour mill is eternal, people.

While the majority of us are concerned about toilet roll stocks or inventing the next 'Instagram challenge' as #Lockdown2 seemingly approaches, Frank Lampard only has one thing on his mind.

Nope, not Sean Dyche's 4-4-f***ing-2 and the Blues' upcoming trip to Burnley, we're talking about centre-backs. A new one. A young one. A never-heard-of-them one.

Chelsea are said to be tracking the progress of promising Malmo defender Anel Ahmedhodzic as they set about acquiring a 'talented youngster' at the heart of defence in January, before loaning them out in a bid to enhance their development. Very unlike Chelsea, that.

Nevertheless, Ahmedhodzic is a name very few would be aware of unless you're the most die-hard supporter of a particular English club.

Thus, let's get to know the 21-year-old defender the Blues are reportedly tracking.

1. Nottingham Forest Stint

Nottingham Forest v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Ahmedhodzic spent three years at Forest but earned just six minutes of first-team action | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Ahmedhodzic came through the ranks at hometown club Malmo before making an audacious switch away in 2016 to Championship outfit Nottingham Forest.

However, despite frequently threatening to break into the first team, Ahmedhodzic made just one senior appearance for Forest which arrived via a six-minute cameo against Rafa Benitez's Newcastle in December 2016.

He was tipped by several managers to be the next youngster likely to make the step up from the Nigel Doughty Academy, but such a step never arrived.

Ahmedhodzic would instead spend much of his Forest career in the Under-23s before returning to Malmo in January 2019.

2. English Football Education

Malmo FF v VfL Wolfsburg - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg
The Bosnia international certainly developed significantly during his time in England | David Lidstrom/Getty Images

Despite failing to earn a serious opportunity with the Forest first team, there's no doubting that his experience in England has been the making of the 21-year-old.

Upon his return to Malmo, Ahmedhodzic said: “I have been educated in English football... it's very physical and hard work.

"I have grown a few centimetres but gone up about 11 kilos since I came to England. It shows a little how it is.

“There are also more physical duels than in Sweden. I've learned a lot, even though I've been stuck to playing football along the ground from the backline.”

3. Sweden's Youth Ranks

Ahmedhodzic earned plaudits for his performances at the Under-17 Euros in 2016 | RONNY HARTMANN/Getty Images

The talented Malmo-born and raised defender Ahmedhodzic was revered as one of Sweden's brightest young talents throughout the majority of his teenage years.

He'd represent the country at Under-17 - shining in the 2016 Euros with this age group - 19 and 21 level before earning his first senior cap in January 2020 in a friendly against Moldova.

Then came the change of heart...

4. Switching National Allegiances

Anel Ahmedhodzic, Craig Pawson
The 21-year-old was giving his marching orders after just 14 minutes against Poland | PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

After making his international debut with Sweden, Ahmedhodzic opted to switch national allegiances to Bosnia and Herzegovina in September.

"It's been difficult. I have played for Sweden at youth level, was born and raised here. At the same time I have Bosnian blood [his father's Bosnian], have been there every summer since I was a child… I have really thought about all sorts of aspects; thought for a long time, discussed a lot and felt for what I really want to do," Ahmedhodzic said in the wake of his decision.

"The only right thing for me is to represent Bosnia."

The 21-year-old has already earned two caps for the national team, although he was harshly sent off on his second appearance against Poland after colliding with Robert Lewandowski as the Bayern Munich hitman bore down on goal.

5. Malmo Evolution

The 21-year-old tussles Wolfsburg's Xaver Schlager in a Europa League tie last term | JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/Getty Images

There was a reason why a number of Forest supporters were disappointed to see Ahmedhodzic depart without being granted a proper first-team opportunity.

He's a real talent and has since proved his worth following his Malmo return, with a loan spell at Danish second-tier side Hobro IK helping him earn his first taste of senior football.

The 21-year-old has swiftly evolved into a star at the heart of the Malmo defence this term, making 24 appearances as Di Blåe currently sit eight points clear at the top of the Swedish Allsvenskan.

While physically imposing at 6'4, it's Ahmedhodzic's ability in possession which has seen him stand out in the Swedish top flight in 2020. He's mightily composed, loves driving into space and always seeks to be progressive.

He's your archetypal modern day centre-half.