The Independent have reported that exciting young Bayern Munich prospect Ryan Johansson is eligible for Ireland. The 16-year-old is on the FAI’s radar and the hope would be that he lines out for the Boys in Green.
There is a catch, though. Although born to an Irish mother, the attacking midfielder also qualifies for his father’s nation Sweden and Luxembourg, the country of his own birth.
However, with Ireland’s under-16 outfit are due to play a tournament in Castlebar in two months time, the FAI are hoping to coax him on board.
Recruitment of players has been challenging for the FAI in recent years with the likes of Jack Grealish, Michael Keane, Jordan Graham and Marcus Agyei-Tabi all switching back to England having represented Ireland at underage level. Players like Curtis Davies, Mark Noble and Harry Kane have also declined offers to play, with Nathan Redmond likely to follow suit.
Thankfully the FAI have had some luck in securing players from outside of Ireland too, expanding a low playing pool. Liam Bossin of Anderlecht is a Belgian-born keeper playing for Noel Kings under-21 side and highly rated English-born players Harry Charsley and Conor Ronan are on board.
Johansson’s scenario bares some similarity to that of Dutchman Barry Maguire, which suggests that the handling of the youngster could be a delicate matter.
Maguire was invited to play at the under-16 grade like Johansson, but when he failed to make an appearance after travelling to Dublin for his call up, the player eventually defected to his native Holland. Maguire has since declared for Ireland yet again, but has slipped off the radar somewhat.
Hopefully Johansson is handled in a better manner and he becomes an important player in the Irish underage set up. Having signed a 3-year deal at the Allianz Arena, he could be a name hot on the lips of Irish fans in years to come.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena