In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Mjällby’s 22-year-old talented goalkeeper Samuel Brolin

This season, the Swedish Allsvenskan has seen three stand-out candidates in the goalkeeping department. Ricardo Friedrich at Kalmar, in addition to Samuel Brolin and Kristoffer Nordfeldt have all had impressive seasons. The interesting aspect is that two of these goalkeepers are actually owned by Stockholm club AIK. Young upcoming star Samuel Brolin has been on loan at Mjällby this year where he has been accumulating a lot of first-team minutes and really catching the eye with some exceptional displays.

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One of the hardest things about being a young and aspiring goalkeeper is actually getting the required playing time to improve and develop. AIK have had a clear and concise pathway for Brolin though. As a 19-year-old in 2019, he was sent on loan to third-tier club Vasalunds, and then the following year played all 30 league matches for Superettan (2nd tier) side Akropolis on another loan. The decision was made at the start of last year to send him on a 2-year loan to fellow Allsvenskan side Mjällby. However, he only made 10 appearances in 2021 because he was up against the strong competition of Carljohan Eriksson, who would prove to be one of the best goalkeepers in the entire division. The departure of Eriksson paved the way for Brolin to be the undisputed #1 custodian at the club.

Brolin is a monster of a man, standing 2.02m tall. His natural height allows him to dominate the box and his jumping and aerial reach are second to none. He is the tallest player in the Allsvenskan and makes use of that fact. From 100 set pieces faced, he has not conceded a single goal this season and from 86 crosses faced, Brolin only let in three goals. Mjällby have been incredibly difficult to target from both set pieces and aerial balls into the box. This man-mountain of a keeper is one of the main reasons why teams have had no success.

Brolin has improved his decision-making this season and combined his physical attributes with smart mental play. The Allsvenskan is a league that can sometimes get quite physical and set pieces are a major weapon for most teams. Each side usually has a designated long throw taker, but Brolin makes light work of those, simply coming off his line and towering above them.

Samuel Brolin; impressive record vs set pieces and crosses faced this season
Dangerous situation with a long throw into the box which is extremely accurate
Brolin comes to claim the ball and towers above everyone else to deal with the situation

Brolin does the basics of goalkeeping very well. It is not exactly rocket science that being tall can really help a keeper. However, it’s in other areas which have seen him catch the eye. With 107 saves made, this ranks him third in the league. That statistic tells a story itself what the playing style of Mjällby is like. They are a small club, and their stadium is based in what is effectively a village called Hällevik containing only 1000 population. They have massively overachieved in the last two years considering their resources. One of the main reasons for that is that they have had an exceptional goalkeeper in the last couple of years.

Brolin ranks second best in the Allsvenskan on expected goals prevented. Brolin has shipped in just 31 goals this season, but his xCG has been as high as 37.42. In basic terms, he has prevented 6.44 goals all by himself. Only Ricardo Friedrich of Kalmar ranks better in this statistical department. Quite simply, Brolin makes saves that he shouldn’t make. There have been several instances of him doing the impossible and keeping out some great attempts. His reflexes are of exceptional ability.

Cross into the box and the defense is in a difficult situation with only one man marking the attacker
Great header from the attacker but Brolin is as well positioned to deal with the attempt as he can be
Remarkable reflex save with one hand prevents a certain goal. Stunning anticipation and reflexes

Brolin ranks 3rd best with reflex accurate saves (64.49%). He has left his line more than any other goalkeeper in the Allsvenskan this season. This is no surprise considering his tall physique, so it makes sense for him to claim balls. He will very rarely misjudge the flight of the ball or make a mistake in that department. The art of reflex saves is often something that comes naturally and is hard to coach and teach. He just happens to be someone who has some fantastic reactions, but Brolin helps himself by often closing down angles quickly. He is a sharp mover with his feet, and this is an underrated aspect of his game.

Very dangerous situation with the opposition attacker in a great position to score
Brolin makes very quick ground with his feet to close down the angle and make a superb close-range save

The big question now is what happens to Brolin in the future. His loan at Mjällby runs out very soon and he has one year left on his contract at AIK. It would be difficult for him to immediately dislodge Kristoffer Nordfeldt as the number one at AIK. Nordfeldt is after all, good enough to be part of the national team setup and the backup to Robin Olsen. There has been some talk about a potential move abroad, with Dutch giants Ajax reportedly showing an interest. He is at the stage of his career where if he is playing in Sweden, he needs to be a regular starter.

One question which might be asked is whether he is good enough technically to make a move from a midtable club like Mjällby to a higher-profile team who are playing as favorites most weeks. His average pass length is 33.06m which is quite average compared to most other keepers. Mjällby play a mixed system and are not simply long ball merchants. He does have a decent 65.2% accuracy for any passes over 40m though.

Samuel Brolin; goal kicks and pass distribution this season

There is no doubt that Brolin has a big future ahead of him. He has caught the eye of some teams abroad who would love to add a young up-and-coming keeper to their ranks. With only one year left on his deal at AIK, he could be potentially available for no more than £1-2 million, or potentially less. AIK might also want to cash in on him now rather than lose him for nothing.

Alternatively, the Stockholm giants might have to make a massive decision and potentially make him their number-one keeper. All options remain open, and he appears to have many pathways, which is no surprise looking at his considerable talent.

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