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'Pulisic and Sancho are doing big things' - Isak praises former Dortmund team-mates as he forges own path at Real Sociedad

18:15 GMT 11/12/2019
Isak Pulisic Dortmund
The trio have gone down different paths in recent years, but the Swedish forward says he still keeps tabs on his former club-mates

For a little while, the trio of Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and Alexander Isak looked to be the future of Borussia Dortmund.

Pulisic emerged as a regular in 2016-17 thanks to his speed and dribbling ability. Sancho's breakthrough began one year later after the talented English star came over from Manchester City. And Isak, once hailed as a successor to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, commanded the highest transfer fee ever paid for an Allsvenskan player when he moved to Dortmund in January 2017.

Since, though, all three have gone their separate ways. Pulisic is thriving at Chelsea, having overcome a difficult start to earn the trust of Frank Lampard. Isak is now at Real Sociedad after proving himself in the Eredivisie on loan at Willem II. And Sancho is still in Dortmiund but now looks set for a move of his own with a number of the world's top teams swirling.

While Pulisic earned his big-money move to a Champions League side and Sancho seems destined for a similar transfer of his own, Isak has taken a different path. Once a target of Real Madrid, Isak fired 14 goals in 18 matches during his loan spell with Willem. During that loan, he became the first foreign-born player in the Eredivisie to score 12 goals in his first 12 league games, earning him a move to Spain with Real Sociedad.

His time at Real Sociedad hasn't started as fast, with Isak scoring twice through his first 16 La Liga matches but, although he's no longer playing alongside Pulisic and Sancho, he's keeping tabs on his former team-mates.

"We all played together for a while and they are good friends. Unfortunately, I didn't play so much at the time, but those two are good players and they're doing big things," Isak told reporters.

"Of course, I'm following them. We all went separate ways in the end, but I enjoy seeing them play week in and week out."

While Pulisic and Sancho have emerged as full internationals for their respective countries, Isak has done the same with Sweden ahead of Euro 2020.

After featuring in several friendlies since making his senior debut in 2017, Isak earned his first competitive cap in March before scoring his first competitive goal in June. In total, Isak has scored four times for Sweden, with three of those goals coming this year.

Given his large frame and his rise through the Allsvenskan, Isak earned comparisons to Ibrahimovic, a legendary figure in Swedish football. But the 20-year-old forward says he isn't too concerned with being the next Swedish legend, but rather playing his own way as his country prepares for Euro 2020.

"That comparison has been given a lot and it's nothing I think about too much," he said. "I have my own style of play and I want to be my own player and not be compared too much. It doesn't disturb me. Myself, I don't compare myself to no one. I'm my own player."

He added: "As footballers, we have pressure every day. That's the way it's supposed to be when you play in big leagues. I don't feel pressure from that kind of stuff, being compared to someone like that. I just want to be myself. I don't feel that type of pressure. I've never spoken to Ibra, but it would be nice to do it someday."

But first, Isak must continue his development with Real Sociedad. The forward scored his first goal in September in a win against Espanyol before firing the lone goal in a victory over Celta Vigo in October.

His role with the Spanish club has been primarily as a substitute with the club relying more on Willian Jose up top, as Isak has started just two of the 16 matches in which he's appeared. To this point, it's worked, as the club sits fourth in the league ahead of this weekend's match at Barcelona.

But Isak is confident that a more consistent role will come as he looks to reach the levels of his former Dortmund team-mates.

"I felt like this was the best option for me and the club showed the most interest in buying me. That's why I came here," he said. "You have a lot of young players. It's one of the youngest average teams in La Liga and that's so important that the club plays us and allows us to develop. It's important.

He added: "I'm here and that's my biggest focus. I've been here for just a few months so there isn't any point in looking at something else. I'm feeling very good here, so I'm excited for my future here right now."