Where Arsenal’s ‘next Ibrahimovic’ is now after big impact in academy

Nikolaj Moller was dubbed ‘the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic’ when he joined Arsenal late in the summer of 2020. But almost three years on, what has the Swedish striker been up to and does he have a future at the Emirates?

Arsenal signed Moller from Malmo for a fee of around £450,000 to £500,000. He had not made his debut at senior level at that point, having only turned 18 a couple of months earlier.

But when you are compared to the great Ibrahimovic, expectations are sure to rise. Moller linked up with the Arsenal academy setup rather than Mikel Arteta’s first-team squad.

He made an immediate impression, scoring on his debut for the under-23 side in a defeat to Manchester City, leading to a senior source at Arsenal telling Goal he had “made a big impact already”. He netted four times in his first seven games in Premier League 2 to catch the eye of the diehard Arsenal supporters who follow the club’s youth teams.

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He ended his first season with Arsenal having scored seven goals and registered three assists in 20 games across Premier League 2 and the EFL Trophy. But he has not pulled on an Arsenal shirt at any level since.

Moller joined German third-tier side Viktoria Koln in July 2021 on a season-long loan. However, he struggled for game time after suffering a back injury and Arsenal recalled him in January 2022.

He was swiftly sent back out on loan to Dutch second-division side Den Bosch. Moller scored just twice in 11 appearances but clearly made an impression.

Den Bosch signed him back for the entirety of this season. He has four goals in 18 appearances in all competitions after missing much of the first two months of the campaign.

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Injuries seem to have been an issue for the 20-year-old, recently returning to fitness after sitting out of five games. He is yet to live up to the billing of becoming the next Ibrahimovic.

Time is still on his side. He still has over a year remaining on his contract at Arsenal.

But whether he has a future in north London is another matter. Arteta is well stocked up front, with Folarin Balogun set to return this summer following a hugely successful loan spell in France.

Moller has not pulled up any trees during his loan moves so far and would unlikely become a part of the first-team squad at Arsenal next term. A loan in England could be a wise next step but after not setting the world alight in the Dutch second tier, there may be few attractive options for him on these shores.

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