With his fleeting runs and nimble feet, Arber Zeneli is finally beginning to look like a bargain for Dutch side SC Heerenveen since joining from IF Elfsborg for around €2m (£1.8m) back in 2015. The question is: how long can they keep him?
Not long is the answer. Chelsea want him and with a fee no higher than £5m, we could see Arber Zeneli hit the lights of the Premier League sooner than I thought. Boy I’m excited.
Born in Sweden to Albanian-Kosovan parents, Arber Zeneli, similar to Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, is a product of refugee movements following the horrific events in what was Yugoslavia. After joining IF Elfsborg from his local club Hälsinggårdens AIK aged 12, he quickly began turning up trees. Cup winning goals in the youth side earnt him a place in the first team, his debut coming at 19 in the Svenska Cupen.
Internationally, he represented Sweden through all the youth levels before switching allegiances to Kosovo in 2016, playing nine times so far, scoring twice. Ultimately, it’s his performances in front of the Abe Lenstra Stadion faithful that have been earning him the plaudits…
“He is one of the greatest talents I have ever seen” – Anders Svensson, teammate and former Southampton player.
A three-month injury layoff over the winter period did not shake Arber, who went on to create an average of 1.5 goalscoring chances for his teammates, more specifically Reza Ghoochannejhad. Zeneli helped drive SC Heerenveen to the European playoff spots, despite playing only 20 games. In terms of tangible statistics, he gained six assists and scored four goals, not actually that poor in a low-scoring Heerenveen side.
16 games, three goals and eight assists for Zeneli so far this season is not bad for the Kosovan. Closely monitored by clubs across Europe, including Italy’s Fiorentina and now Chelsea means the team from North Netherlands will struggle to keep him. His contract is up in the summer so if Chelsea want him now, it’ll only cost them around £5m.
Oozing talent and the potential to be big, Arber Zeneli is one of my favourite players but also one to watch in the future, even if he doesn’t move to Chelsea…
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