Albert Gudmundsson, Iceland's NxGn star who is keeping Arsenal waiting

Argentina v Iceland
Albert Guðmundsson
World Cup
The 20-year-old ignored the bright lights of the Premier League in favour of furthering his development in the Eredivisie ahead of a World Cup debut
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There aren’t many young players who would turn down the riches of the Premier League in favour of the more modest environment of the Eredivisie.

But Albert Gudmundsson, a precocious young attacker on the cusp of both PSV Eindhoven and Iceland’s starting line-ups, thought the best place for his development was not the Emirates, but the Abe Lenstra Stadion, home of SC Heerenveen.

"It was difficult [to turn down Arsenal],” Gudmundsson said. "I think my decision to go to Holland was more because I would get more quickly into the first team here.

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“I went on trial at both Liverpool and Arsenal. I had a really good time there in England but, in the end, it was me being realistic about where I would get the most playing time.

"Arsenal are a team I support though, it was such a difficult decision. I was thinking about it for a while. I was 16 at the time and my family helped me with my decision. I think I took the right decision still, but you never know, we will see at the end of my career if I was wrong.”

Gudmundsson’s decision to choose the best option for his career rather than his bank balance highlights a mature way of thinking that is becoming all-too-rare among his peers, and he has been able to mirror that considered approach in his performances for Jong PSV.

Capable of playing anywhere across the frontline, Gudmundsson’s calmness in front of goal belies his tender years and his ability to finish expertly with either foot brings variation to his already well-rounded game.

A player who seems to always have time on the ball no matter what’s going on around him, Gudmundsson was undoubtedly the star of PSV’s reserve team this season, scoring nine times in 15 matches in the Netherlands’ second tier.

He was able to replicate his productivity for PSV’s senior squad, providing two assists in just 176 minutes for Phillip Cocu’s title-winning side. 

And a hat-trick for Iceland in a friendly against Indonesia earlier this year saw him keep up the family tradition of scoring for their country, a habit that goes back four generations to his great-grandfather Albert, who became Iceland’s first professional footballer before going on to play for Arsenal and Inter Milan.

A starting berth under Heimir Hallgrímsson may not be forthcoming in Russia, but Gudmundsson will surely be one of the first players the manager-cum-dentist turns to if Iceland are in need of a goal.

And judging by their opponents in the group stage - Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria - Gudmundsson’s skills and single-mindedness in one-on-one situations could prove invaluable as they look to find a way out of the toughest group the tournament has to offer.

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