Why Niko Hamalainen could be a good signing for Huddersfield Town
The Terriers are set to face competition from United States outfit Los Angeles FC and German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin in their pursuit of the 22-year-old, who has established himself as a regular fixture at Rugby Park this term. (Football Insider h/t Examiner Live)
Hamalainen has started 18 out of Kilmarnock’s 20 league fixtures in the Scottish Premiership so far this term, chipping in with an assist in the process.
Despite his lack of goal contributions, the youngster’s impressive progress has caught the eyes of Huddersfield Town.
Born in Florida, United States, to a Finnish father and an American mother, Niko Hamalainen started his footballing education at FC Dallas before completing a move to QPR back in 2014.
However, he had to go through a loan spell at Dagenham & Redbridge in League Two during the 2015-16 season before eventually bursting on to the scene at Loftus Road in the following campaign.
Having found regular minutes hard to come by, the 22-year-old spent the latter stages of the 2018-19 season on loan at Los Angeles FC in the MLS before moving out on loan to Kilmarnock for the entirety of the ongoing campaign.
As per the report, Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley has highlighted the left-back department as one of the areas which require some reinvestment in January, whilst also indicating that he might have to wield the axe on a few first-team players to cut down the wage bills and raise funds to bring in fresh recruits.
The likes of Reece Brown, Herbert Bockhorn, Terence Kongolo, Adama Diakhaby and Isaac Mbenza have been deemed surplus to requirements by Cowley (h/t Examiner Live), and there have been obvious signs to suggest that Huddersfield could be set for a busy January window with some considerable arrivals and departures.
Meanwhile, the Terriers steered themselves six points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest in their previous outing, thanks to goals from Christopher Schindler and Steve Mounie.
Despite showing strong signs of resurgence under Cowley over the past couple of months, Huddersfield still need a solid run in the second half of the season to avoid any relegation worries and the club’s business in the January window could hold the key in that regard.
To put things into perspective, Cowley’s interest in bolstering the left-back department certainly makes a lot of sense and Niko Hamalainen looks like a player in the right age bracket who could possibly solve a nagging issue in a key area of the pitch for the Terriers.
Jaden Brown, who is currently the only specialist left-back in Huddersfield’s ranks, recently made his return as a late substitute against Forest following an injury lay-off.
The youngster’s return to action comes as a piece of welcome news to the club faithful heading into the second half of the campaign but the Terriers would be wise enough to address lack of depth at left-back, and Hamalainen certainly fits the bill in that regard.
Cowley hasn’t seemed too keen to use Kongolo in that role, with Florent Hadergjonaj, primarily a right-back by trade, currently filling the shoes of Brown.
The arrival of Danny Simpson has proven to be a massive boost to the club’s backline and bringing in a new a left-back should be of utmost importance.
Hamalainen might have struggled to cut the teeth in the Championship at QPR but his qualities as a left-back certainly can’t be played down, given that the 22-year-old has proven his worth on loan at Kilmarnock.
Also, it is worth mentioning over here that Hamalainen has never really been given a fair crack of the whip at Loftus Road and regular playing opportunities at Kilmarnock has helped him make strides towards realizing his potential.
The Finnish-American left-back still has a lot of room for development at 22 and Cowley, who has previously illustrated his proficiency in nurturing young talents in the Football League, should fancy his chances of working wonders with Hamalainen.
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All in all, Niko Hamalainen to Huddersfield Town in January makes perfect sense for a number of reasons.