For the better part of the 21st century, Swedish football was known to the world through Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The striker, who is still playing for AC Milan at 41 years old, was the only superstar in the national team. However, in recent years, the national team is starting to see several new youngsters emerge. There is the electric winger Roony Bardghji who is dazzling defences in the Danish League. Another is Celta de Vigo’s attacking midfielder Williot Swedberg. And now the latest name to join the list is Hugo Larsson, the central midfielder whose stock is rising fast in the Swedish league.
The 18-year-old has already been earmarked for a brilliant career going forward. Larsson’s rise comes at a time when the Swedish national team is looking to rise among the football ranks. And while he is still far from a finished product, the early signs are pretty promising.
But who is Hugo Larsson, and how good is he?
Playing career so far
Hugo Emanuel Larsson was born in Svarte, a locality situated in Ystad Municipality, Skane County, in southern Sweden. Larsson’s footballing career started at the young age of five when he joined local club SoGK Charlo in 2009. For the next seven years, Larssson played for the club, quickly progressing through the youth ranks and establishing himself as one of the top young prospects across Sweden.
All that brilliant performances in the youth ranks brought the interest of top Swedish clubs from across the country. In the end, though, Larsson decided to sign for Malmo, the most successful club in the country. What also worked for Larsson was that the club was only 60 kilometres from Svarte, meaning it was easy for the then 12 years to join the team.
Joining the club in 2016, Hugo Larsson continued his development playing for the under-16s, followed by a successful under-18s spell. There, he caught the eyes of the top coaching hierarchy of the club.
He was selected for the UEFA Youth League campaign for Malmo, where he played every match in the group stages. Despite Malmo losing five of the six games, Larsson’s performance was brilliant, which earned him a call-up to the senior team.
His debut for the senior team finally came on February 20, 2022, when he played the final 15 minutes of the game against GAIS. Over the next 23 days, he would play three more matches helping Malmo reach the final. Larsson also played in the final, where Malmo won their 15th cup title.
This brought him his senior team debut in the league on April 11, 2022, against Elfsborg.
Hugo Larsson är Årets unga spelare i Allsvenskan 2022! 🥇
Stort grattis, Hugo! 👏 pic.twitter.com/FqZGkbGot9
— Malmö FF (@Malmo_FF) November 8, 2022
Hugo Larsson stats
Hugo Larsson played 27 appearances during the 2022 Allsvenskan, out of which ten were starts. The teenager found the back of the net one time and helped set up one goal. Stats from Sofascore show that he averages 32.9 touches averaging one key pass every other game creating three big chances in the process.
His passing accuracy is also a respectable 87 per cent for a player in his first senior team season. Larsson is also more than capable of playing good long passes with 65 per cent accuracy.
Larsson also averages more than one tackle and interception per game and rarely dribbles past. The youngster also wins 50 per cent of his ground duels and has a dribbling success date of 53 per cent in the 2022 season.
Hugo Larsson scout report
As is the case with every central midfielder, Hugo Larsson possesses the physicality and athleticism in spades. However, his breakneck pace and brilliant vision make him even better, allowing him to move the play forward quickly with perfect passing.
His pace also allows him to make quick box-to-box runs, ensuring that his team are rarely outnumbered, whether in their goal or the opposition. Larsson is equally adept at playing quick passes in tight areas, a rare trait for such a young player.
He also uses his physicality to good effect to shield the ball, making it very hard for the opposition to dispossess him.
Larsson does have his weakness, and the chief of them is his lack of dealing with one-on-one situations. And it is not that he is not adept at making a perfect tackle or interception; it is more due to his lack of confidence in such situations.
However, Larsson has only completed one senior season and has a lot of time to iron out the gaps in his game and allow him to take the next step to become a world-class footballer.
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What makes him special
Hugo Larsson is not a player with extraordinary skills that dazzle fans and opposition. However, what makes him unique is his unbelievable consistency in doing the basics right. Larsson is not brilliant but effective and too consistent, which is required for a player in his role.
This is one of the reasons why he has risen so quickly and become an integral part of the senior Malmo squad. And if he just keeps working on that, he will become a midfielder in the mould of Casemiro, who can be a midfield enforcer for any team he plays for.
Hugo Larsson’s potential and future at Malmo
Hugo Larsson was in the final stages of joining Premier League club Bournemouth for a reported fee of €12 million in the January transfer window. However, the deal fell because the club and player failed to agree on personal terms.
Hugo Larsson, top talent to watch — Bournemouth had deal in place for €12m with Malmö in January for the midfielder born in 2004 but then collapsed due to personal terms ⭐️🇸🇪
Top European clubs now following Hugo as huge talent, likely to break Swedish transfer record. pic.twitter.com/xnmXI1EtNg
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 21, 2023
Speaking on the failed move, Larsson said that the move to Bournemouth was a step too big too soon for him. However, the entire saga is more than enough proof of Larsson’s immense talent and his high potential.
However, top clubs across Europe are already eyeing the talent, and it is a question of when and not if he leaves the club. For now, though, Larsson must ensure he keeps on progressing and earns a move to a top club.