The only way is up for this Newcastle star

24-year-old Alexander Isak is making it a habit to score whenever he is on the field. Allow us to look at the journey of the young forward to stardom at Newcastle.

Striker’s instinct from the start

In 2016, at just 16, the Swedish player made his first first-team appearance for AIK – a club he spent his entire youth at. In a Swedish Cup game that ended 6-0, Isak was brought on later in the match, only for him to score within a minute of coming onto the field.

A month and a week later, for the first time in his career, the forward was named in the starting lineup for AIK’s first team. He secured the victory for his side by scoring the second goal in a 2–0 win. By doing so, Alexander Isak became the youngest scorer for AIK in Allsvenskan history at the age of just 16 years and 199 days. His first goal on home grounds came shortly after, in a 2-1 victory.

After an impressive first few games, Isak signed his first professional contract with AIK who were hoping to keep the player long-term. That comes as no surprise as teammate Chinedu Obasi later described the forward as “Sweden’s new Zlatan Ibrahimović.”

The forward finished the 2016 season with 10 goals in 24 appearances, in just his first season in the first team.

Wrong or right career move

Isak reportedly turned down a move to Real Madrid in January 2017 and instead signed for German club Borussia Dortmund. The transfer fee was undisclosed, but it is reported to have been €9 million, which would be the highest transfer fee ever paid for an Allsvenskan player at that time.

Despite signing a long-term contract lasting until the summer of 2022, the Swede did not get many appearances for the Bundesliga club.

Isak marked his debut for the team during a 3–0 victory against Sportfreunde Lotte in March 2017, just two months after joining Dortmund. His first medal with the club came when Dortmund secured the 2016–17 DFB Pokal, with Isak making a single appearance in the tournament. He also did not make an appearance in the final.

In a 2017–18 DFB Pokal second round match against FC Magdeburg in October 2017, Isak notched his first competitive goal for Dortmund, contributing the second goal in an impressive 5–0 triumph.

A loan move gone right

The 2018–19 Bundesliga season saw Isak make no appearances for Borussia Dortmund. In January 2019, Isak was then loaned to the Dutch Eredivisie club Willem II.

In February, he scored the equalizer and the winning penalty in the semi-finals of the KNVB Cup. The young Swede had helped Willem II reach the Dutch Cup final for the first time since 2005.

Come March, he became the first player ever to score three penalties in an Eredivisie match, in a 3–2 win.

The end of his loan spell saw Isak make a name for himself. Isak became the first foreign-born player in the Eredivisie to score 12 goals in his first 12 league games.

Triumph in Spain

Isak left Dortmund before the end of his contract to join La Liga side Real Sociedad. He made the move to Spain in June 2019, signing a five-year deal with the La Liga club.

He made appearances in their pre-season campaign, and in fact, scored his first goal in his first game. By the time pre-season was done, he had scored four goals in five games, cementing the confidence of the Real Sociedad scouts.

His first competitive goal for Real Sociedad in a 3–1 La Liga win against Espanyol in September 2019. Later that season, Isak scored two goals and made one assist in the Copa del Rey quarter-final against Real Madrid in a game that ended 4-3.

In April, Isak won his first silverware with the club when he started and played in the 2020 Copa del Rey Final in a 1–0 win against Athletic Bilbao, helping Real Sociedad win the cup crown.

In February 2021, Isak achieved a significant milestone by securing his first hat-trick for the team during a commanding 4–0 league victory over Deportivo Alavés. This accomplishment not only showcased his prowess on the field but also marked him as the first Swedish player to accomplish a La Liga hat-trick since Henry “Garvis” Carlsson achieved the feat for Atlético Madrid back in 1949.

When it came time to say goodbye to Real Sociedad, the young forward had left with 44 goals in 132 appearances.

Off the mark from the very start

Newcastle United completed the signing of striker Alexander Isak for a club-record £63m fee from Real Sociedad in August 2022.

Just days after signing, he had an impactful Premier League debut against Liverpool. He scored the first goal of the game and had his brace ruled out for offside. On his Premier League debut, Isak showed quality and was named man of the match in a 2–1 defeat at Anfield.

In his third game for Newcastle, he scored a penalty in a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth. That was his final contribution of 2022 as he was ruled out for 16 competitive matches due to a hamstring injury.

In his third game back from injury, Isak came off the bench and scored the sole goal in a 1-0 victory against Fulham.

Isak scored his first brace for Newcastle in a thrilling 2–1 triumph away against Nottingham Forest. A stoppage-time penalty by the Swede secured the decisive victory. Impressively, he replicated this success with another quick brace within two minutes during a dominating 6–1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Isak showcased his skill by dribbling past three Everton defenders to deliver a precise cross with the help of a deflection – the perfect build-up to a Jacob Murphy goal in a 4–1 away victory. Following the Swede’s skilful display that day, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe was urged to discuss comparisons between Isak and Thierry Henry.

Isak completed his first season at Newcastle with 10 goals and three assists in 27 appearances. One cannot help but think he would have doubled those figures had it not been for the hamstring injury earlier on in the season.

He is still going

After a successful season by Newcastle last season, they now find themselves in the UEFA Champions League. They’ve also started the 2023/24 Premier League and EFL Cup season strong – with a couple of hiccups – and Isak has been one of the reasons for that.

Isak continued to prove his scoring prowess right from the start of the season, securing a notable brace in a commanding 5–1 victory over Aston Villa in the first game of the season. Adding to his impactful contributions, he scored the lone goal in a crucial 1–0 triumph over Manchester City, eliminating them from the EFL Cup. This win held particular significance as it marked his club’s first victory against Manchester City in the last 11 encounters.

Isak faced another injury setback but made a triumphant return just in time for their Premier League clash against Chelsea. Despite just recovering from a groin injury, Isak found himself back in the starting 11. Seamlessly picking up where he left off, he made a swift impact, scoring the first goal just 13 minutes into the game in a 4–1 win over Pochettino’s side.

Three days later, he achieved another milestone by scoring his first-ever Champions League goal. This crucial goal granted his club a 1–0 away lead against Paris Saint-Germain, in a match that ended in a 1–1 draw following a controversial penalty scored by PSG’s Kylian Mbappé in stoppage time.

Presently, the young Swede has showcased his striking abilities by notching up an impressive 9 goals in just 14 appearances for Newcastle in the ongoing 2023/24 season, a remarkable feat considering he faced an injury setback at some point. He is clearly on an upward trajectory with his goal-scoring proficiency becoming increasingly evident. The anticipation is high for Newcastle’s upcoming fixture against Everton, with Isak poised to further enhance his goal tally in what promises to be a game that may sway in Eddie Howe’s favour.

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