In a new feature for my blog, I’ll be looking at the career of former Academy winger Alexander Kačaniklić, but first if you missed the last edition of Where Are They Now, then be sure to read it by clicking here. Where Are They Now is a series that I do once a month on This Is Anfield, looking at former Academy players and their journeys since leaving Merseyside.
Alexander Kačaniklić played for the Reds’ Academy for three years between 2007 and 2010. The Swedish winger signed for the Reds from his home town Helsingborg FC when he was just 16 years of age and was most remember for a stunning goal in the 2008/09 FA Youth Cup Final against Arsenal. The Swede did not make any significant impact for the Reds and along with fellow team-mate Lauri Dalla Valle was sold to Fulham on deadline day of 2010, a deal which brought Paul Konchesky from Craven Cottage to Anfield, a strange deal considering Kačaniklić was only 19 years of age. During his time at Melwood, Kačaniklić also represented Sweden at Under 17 and Under 19 level, in which he made a combined 19 appearances scoring 2 goals.
When he arrived at the London club, Kačaniklić played in the reserves and impressed. Due to his outstanding run of performances, he got into some of Fulham’s match day squads, but did not break into the first team as he was an unused substitute for Fulham in the only time he made the final 16, as Fulham drew with Sunderland in November 2011.
At this stage, Kačaniklić was 20 years of age, and if he was going to be one for the future at Fulham, he needed first team experience and valuable game time. He would have been guaranteed this at Under 21 level, but that level was completely different to that of lower league first team football. On deadline day in January 2012, Kačaniklić joined Championship side Watford on loan, and made his debut just a day later, showing that he had an important role to play for Watford.
However, Kačaniklić had to wait until March to score his first goal for the Hornets, as they beat Burnley 3-2. Just 3 weeks later though, Kačaniklić was recalled to Fulham, after he relished the chance to play first team football at Watford and put in a string of fantastic performances which impressed his parent club. During his time at Watford, Kačaniklić made 12 apperances scoring just the 1 goal.
Just 3 days after being recalled by Fulham, he made his official Fulham debut in a match against Norwich, where he impressed and almost had a dream debut to remember, but the crossbar denied him his first goal for Fulham. Manager Martin Jol was impressed with Kačaniklić and as a result awarded the winger with his first start for Fulham, where the Swedish international played 88 minutes before being substituted.
In his first two performances for Fulham, Kačaniklić did enough to impress Jol that much, that he was offered a professional two year contract, with an option to stay for a third year. Since then, Kačaniklić has made 29 appearances for Fulham, scoring 4 goals including his first in a 5-0 win at home to Norwich and his most important in a 3-3 draw at Arsenal.
Even though Kačaniklić put in some strong performances for Fulham, he was surprising sent out on loan to Burnley from the 1st March until the 18th April where he made just 6 appearances where he failed to score a single goal.
His performances for Fulham did attract the interest of the Sweden National side and has made a strong impact in the current 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. Overall, Kačaniklić has made 12 appearances for Sweden thus far, scoring 2 goals.
Thanks for taking the time to read this feature and if you enjoyed reading it, please be sure to share this and let me know if you think Kačaniklić will be a success despite leaving Liverpool. Also, I am running out of ideas of who to cover on upcoming editions of Where Are They Now, so be sure to leave your comments below suggesting players I should cover. Finally, for more information of Academy players, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ScottTaylorUK).