The most talented youngster in Finnish football, 16-year-old midfielder Kaan Kairinen is a regular in the national youth teams and has had plenty of playing time with Inter Turku this season. How far can he go?
Name: Kaan Kairinen
Club: Inter Turku
Debut: 25 October 2014 v FF Jaro
Date of birth: 22 December 1998
Preferred foot: right
They say …
"Kaan has shown he is ready for the responsibility. I would not be at all surprised if plays a lot of league games this season. All he needs to do is concentrate and keep working hard."
Inter Turku head coach Job Dragtsma
Regarded as the greatest talent in the history of his hometown club, Turku-born Kairinen has been a regular for Finland's national teams since he was an Under-15. He was drafted into Inter Turku's senior team not long after his 15th birthday, making his league debut as a substitute in the final round of the 2014 season.
Kairinen played regularly in the pre-season League Cup this season, and has started more than half of Inter Turku's league games in 2015.
Playing style …
Still only 16, Kairinen's ability to control midfield is remarkable in one so young. His understanding and vision are already impressive, and he seldom seems to be in a hurry, picking his passes with elegance and precision. Deployed largely in an attacking role, he has shown an aptitude for defensive work too.
Shades of …
Kairinen is a type of player rarely seen in Finland. He has been likened to national hero Jari Litmanen for his ability to make things look easy on the pitch, his hunger for extra training on his own, and the fact that he has made it into senior football so young. Litmanen was 16 when he made his club debut for Reipas Lahti in 1987.
Eureka moment …
In the 2014 season, Kairinen was still just a talented kid, but pre-season visits to Tottenham Hotspur in England and Nordsjӕlland in Denmark, and good friendly performances, convinced Inter Turku boss Job Dragtsma that he was ready to step up. His faith has been rewarded.
Best case scenario …
With over 20 league games this season, and valuable experience of playing with older players in the national Under-19 team, Kairinen is being linked with moves to bigger leagues already. It already seems to be a case of when rather than whether he makes it into Finland's senior team.
He says …
"It was great to make the debut and I think I did fairly well. My goal now is to train more and more with the first team to be given more responsibility."
After making his senior debut
"The Veikkausliiga is a senior league so the game is naturally much more physical than at youth level. I feel things are going well, though. I have been given responsibility and that has been good for my confidence. I am looking for a transfer abroad after this season. I feel I will be ready when the right opportunity comes."
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