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Aapo Virtanen: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Started on 6 November 2018 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 September 2019 by Justice
Has anybody told Taron that he has a f*cking massive head?
The wonders you continue to work at this club defy belief, to be sitting second in a CL group is incredible

AC Oulu have qualified for the Champions League Last 16

In what has been yet another unbelievable season for the emerging Finnish giants AC Oulu, last night saw Aapo Virtanen take the club one step further into the record books as a 3-2 win over Lokomotiv Moscow at Kupittaan Jalkapallostadion took them through to the last 16 of the world's most coveted competition.

Going into this seasons Champions League campaign, it was doubted whether Oulu would even manage to reach the same heights as last season when they qualified for the group stage in their first ever appearance in the competition before being mercilessly trounced by Porto, PSG and the current holders of the Champions League, Arsenal.

After a stunning first-half performance in the first group fixture against Spanish giants Atlético Madrid, Aapo Virtanen managed a miracle victory against Pep Guardiola's team in Finland, before taking a point off them in the corresponding fixture in another action-packed 3-3 draw.

After a draw and a win against Benfica and Lokomotiv Moscow respectively, it was in Oulu's hands in the fifth fixture of the group stage as Lokomotiv Moscow travelled to Finland.

In the game last night, AC Oulu had a torrid start to the game as they went 2-0 down within the first fifteen minutes of the match thanks to a Noah Jean Holm brace. It took almost half an hour for AC Oulu to get back into the game as Danish striker Martin Madsen took his chance in the 36th minute to pull a goal back for the hosts.

Not even one minute after Madsen's header, Antonio Guillén was sent down the wing as Oulu retrieved the ball from the shocked Lokomotiv players from kick-off. Thomas Makinen played a ball over the top for the young Mexican winger who deftly tucked it past Lodygin for Oulu's second goal in just one minute of play.

The two sides went in with two goals apiece at the half-time whistle and after a slow start, Oulu began to grab the game by the scruff of its neck once more. Knowing a win would send the comparative minnows into the knockout rounds, Madsen seized on a mistake by former Watford centre-back Christian Kabasele and slotted home a third goal to put AC Oulu in the driving seat in the 64th minute.

The stands were in both complete shock and jubilation as the final whistle sounded as the slow realisation that their club - only founded twenty years ago - were really beginning to mix it with the big boys of Europe in a way that no other Finnish club had ever done before.

Oulu sit top of Group D going into the group stage's final matchday in January and following a 1-0 victory in their last match, Atlético Madrid have also secured their place in the next round of the Champions League despite a rough start against Virtanen's side.

LFCFan: I have been absolutely overwhelmed by our performances in Europe this season - they have been absolutely outstanding especially when compared to our domestic performances which on such a scale, now look rather average!

Justice: (The real reason he left is because the squad kept bullying him with the nickname 'Snipers' Dream')

Griffin: I honestly am taken aback by what this squad is achieving at the moment, it is outstanding stuff.
I have no words for what I've just read! :O Some absolutely stunning results to get you into the knockout phase of the Champions League; something which you couldn't have dreamed of at this stage, I'm sure. You never fail to amaze me with the sh*t you pull off, Jack... ;)
There are no words
Finally gotten through your story and great stuff so far. The results have been excellent, especially in the Champions League. And i like the twists and turns in the story, keeps you entertained. I had done similar in the past, but for me it got to time consuming. But really enjoying it and keep up the good work.

And our final fixture of the season in the Champions League group stage against Benfica brings us to the end of a wonderful domestic season. Just two points short of last seasons points total in the Veikkausliiga, once again no other team even came close as Mariehamn finished 11 points behind us in the runners-up position despite beginning the first two months as a major contender for the title as they topped the league after a third of the season passed by.

October and November went like a dream to put it simply. We made no slip-ups against the bottom half teams of Haka, Mikkeli and Inter Turku as we scored ten goals in three games against them. A 4-0 pasting of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League was certainly the highlight before eventually guaranteeing our qualification into the last 16 of the competition against them in the corresponding fixture. After an extended break with no fixtures, we lined up two friendlies against Veikkausliiga opposition in December before our January match against Benfica in the last game of the group stage, by which point both ourselves and Atlético Madrid had already qualified.

Despite our involvement in every competition possible this season, we have once again been rampant in our demolition of the Finnish top tier. Our winning performance in the Suomen Cup in April means that fourth place gets a best-placed Europa League spot which I am sure Kuopion were delighted with. Although we didn't have the best goalscoring record this time, our defence is something we can be extremely proud of after conceding no more than 0.67 goals per game on average, leading to the highest goal difference in the league of +38.

As discussed before, Mariehamn posed a considerable threat earlier in the season but after a bad run of form on their behalf, we took advantage and put them down into 2nd place. Vaasan became the surprise package this season after their 7th placed finish in 2021. Their star striker, Matias Forsman finished as top scorer this season as he delivered a quarter of their eventual goals tally of 62.

However, in what is a possibly worrying sign of things to come, Helsinki had their lowest positional finish in the division since 2004's 6th place finish as FC Haka won the title that year. They finished an appalling 5th place even in light of Rami Hakanpaa's sacking and Gabri Garcia's appointment in July. Garcia left his role at Seinajoen mid-season to take on the managerial position in the capital and has himself not improved anything, attaining a shocking win ratio of just 25%, winning only three of his sixteen matches. Another significant fall from grace has been the case of Inter Turku, who, after two seasons in a row finishing as runners-up have this season been demolished as they came 9th with 34 points and a new manager in Sami Hyypia who has had a poor start with a 16% win ratio at the club.

At the bottom end of the table, both of the teams who only just came up in 2021 have fallen straight back through the trap door down to the Ykkonen. FC Haka were relegated three games before the final match and found themselves immediately relegated to be replaced by Ykkonen champions Turun Palloseura next season. Mikkeli on the other hand, had the opportunity to survive by virtue of the relegation playoff. However, after a first leg 2-1 defeat to FC Lahti of the Ykkonen, Mikkeli couldn't grasp onto survival and as a result, Lahti came up as Mikkeli fall back down to the second tier.

The seasonal awards were handed out after the final official fixture of the season with Mikkeli and Lahti battling out in the relegation playoff in October.

Yet again, it is an almost full AC Oulu squad who were granted places in the Veikkausliiga Team of the Season. David Obi, who battled for number one spot with Olexiy Kolesnyk this season got in front of his teammate to take up the goalkeeping spot. Tatu Tiihonen, Noah Nurmi, Erik Dahl and Mehli Altikulac (who was in last seasons TotS) made up the defence. €1.3million January signing Martin Madsen showed up on the left-wing as Guillén occupied the right. In the centre, Antti Huhtamaki - into his third season at Oulu now - and Moshtagh Yaghoubi. Meanwhile up-front it was Teemu Savolainen and Seinajoen's Billy Ions - a joint goal tally of 25 goals - took up the striker positions.

For the third year in a row, I have picked up the Veikkausliiga Manager of the Year award after leading my club to it's third consecutive title win with a 60% win ratio over the course of this season, reflecting my whole career win ratio of 59% after 227 games in charge of the club.

Antti Huhtamaki deservedly took home the Player of the Year award this season after three appearances in the Team of the Month over the course of 2022. The 20-year-old central midfielder has turned out to be one of the best bargains in my career after joining us for just €5,500 from Turun Palloseura in 2020, following Teemu Savolainen from the same club.

The top scorer this season was Vaasan's Matias Forsman with the young academy graduate really making a name for himself in the top tier this season as he carried Vaasan all the way to the club's first top-three finish since 2013.

The Veikkausliiga Rookie of the Year award went to our own winger/striker Martin Madsen who joined us from FC Midtjylland at the start of the season for a fee of €1,300,000. The 19-year-old Dane is the successor of Oliver Antman who won the award last season for some scintillating performances, but with 8 goals from 17 starts this year, he has earned his award.

Once again, the club has exponentially grown its finances of the year before thanks mainly to prize money once again in the Champions League after gaining yet another group stage finish. The prize money that came with every win (€2.7m) or draw (€900k) also bolstered this figure as we won three games and drew two in the group stage. Our sponsorship money increased and the money gained from the sales of Taron Molyneux and Tony Hammond mid-season brought our net transfer spend to around +€1,000,000

Our main expenditure this season was of course, transfer fees. Despite spending around €7,000,000, a lot of the transfers are dependent on performance-related clauses as well as monthly instalments over the coming years. Due to our remarkably high profits, it was inevitable that the directors would take their cuts of their investment as well as the tax rates being a key expenditure that simply can't be avoided unless making a loss.

All added up together, the club made an outstanding €14,000,000 profit in the year of 2022, which is only set to increase with the appearance money in the Champions League group stage giving us €9,500,000 to start off 2023 with. It really is exciting times at the club and it really feels like we are beginning an unstoppable rise to the top.

Scott: I'm stunned as much as you are. That Atlético result really shifted the tide in our favour and I think if it went any other way, we'd be talking about the Europa League now.

Griffin: I hope there's more stunners coming ;)

SonsOfAnarchy: Thanks for taking the time to catch up man, it's really appreciated and a great compliment that my writing has kept you intrigued. My results have stunned me and everyone I think!
And to think we were worrying at one point, due to Mariehamn's good start to the season! Not bad at all, once again.

Quite proud of myself that I'm aware of who Billy Ions is, actually. :P Congratulations on a truly fantastic season once again. Onto the knockout phases of the Champions League!
Another impressive season, especially in Europe! The large amount of profit shows that aswell. Wonder if we see the a similar amount of signings as last seasons

Earlier today, AC Oulu announced the signing of Finnish striker Roope Riski on the club's social media pages and official website.

Riski, the brother of Helsinki star Riku signs a two-year deal with the Veikkausliiga champions from Austrian Bundesliga outfit St. Polten for a fee of little over €300,000.

The 31-year-old is name familiar with Finnish football fans having scored on his international debut for Finland back in January 2015 against Sweden while under contract at Veikkausliiga side Seinajoen Jalkapallokerho that year. The striker has gone on to make 25 appearances for his national team in the past seven years, scoring three goals.

Roope Riski has had a career spanning 16 years, starting out as a Turun Palloseura youth graduate

Roope Riski made his professional debut three years after signing his professional deal at Turun Palloseura in 2007, after 24 goals in 64 games and various loan spells, Cesena bought the player for €500,000 in 2010, but Riski never made any impact in Serie A, despite the costly fee.

A good season in Norway with Honefoss earned Riski a return to Finnish football which was two years in the making with Seinajoen getting the best out of the striker and winning the Veikkausliiga with him up top.

After a below average showing in the German third tier with Paderborn, it was a shock to see Austrian top-flight side St. Polten come in and sign the player from his parent club Seinajoen for a €300,000 fee in 2017.

After a poor first season in Austria, Riski was loaned out to Greece where his phenomenal return to good form earned him another full season at St. Polten where he began to make his stance. As a result of his great form, Riski became an essential part of St. Polten's first-team ever since.

After the details of Riski's long-awaited return to Finland with Oulu came out, domestic pundits were stunned to see that Oulu had agreed a deal of €12,000 per week with the 31-year-old. This makes the striker the country's highest-paid player in history as he takes up approximately 19% of Oulu's current wage bill.

Aapo Virtanen spoke about the deal to the local press following the announcement:
"We are all delighted here. The signing of Roope [Riski] is truly a testament as to how far we have come as a club over the past few years. Nobody in this division would have been able to touch Riski before our success and the player is just as happy to be back in his home country where he has served multiple clubs with his great performances."

Riski's signing comes during Oulu's Suomen Cup group phase and just one week before their Champions League last 16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain which will be played in the national stadium due to minimum capacity restrictions.

Scott: I know, it was a bit edgy early on but as soon as they hit the rocks of bad form, there was no coming back. I was aware of Ions because he signed for Leeds as a young player ages ago, but he's been great over the years for Seinajoen

LFCFan: Europe has been majestic to us this season, for sure. I'm not sure about signings given that we filled up our academy last season with lots of players, but we sure have a lot of money to spend after that financial year!
Fantastic work with the graphics. He may turn into the greatest player you have ever bought
He's extremely hit and miss, so hopefully he proves to find some consistency with you. The wage demands are high for a club like yourself, so he has a lot of work to do to justify his arrival.

In the build up to the new season, AC Oulu added former Seinajoen striker Roope Riski for €300,000. Aapo Virtanen has wasted no time in further adding to his ranks with six more additions.

Two new youngsters have arrived in the form of Valentinos Michail and Miguel Ángel Salazar. The players were reportedly scouted at Under-21 and Under-20 international games, with Michail representing Cyprus and Salazar turning out for Mexico on the international stage.

Michail's contract at his hometown club of Paphos expired last summer and has been without a club since then. He attracted the attention of Cypriot teams but these clubs never made any official approach for the 18-year-old centre-back.

Salazar was spotted playing alongside his new Oulu teammate Cristian Pina for Mexico's U20 team in various Under 20 internationals before he signed a three-year deal with the Finnish club after his Veracruz contract expired last year.

In a pre-arranged deal from last year, South African midfielder Mpho Ngubane finally arrived on his €100,000 deal (rising to €190,000 depending on clauses). The youngster has made 7 appearances for his national Under 20s side after graduating from the Mamelodi Sundowns academy three years ago. Ngubane signed a three-year deal at Raatin Stadion, earning €625 per week in Finland.

In the only non-teenage signing so far this season apart from Roope Riski is the arrival of Daniel Granli. The Norwegian full-back has spent his entire 12 year career at Stabaek in Norway in a remarkable show of loyalty for his hometown club. Over the 12 year period, Granli made an outstanding 215 appearances for the club before he handed in his transfer request this winter, stating that he wanted a new challenge at his age of 29.

The one-time Eliteserien winners listed the player on the transfer market for a fee of just €30,000. In the absence of a back-up right-back at Oulu, Aapo Virtanen snapped up the 29-year-old Stabaek stalwart to play as a back-up option for the main right-back, youngster Tatu Tiihonen.

As two goalkeepers found their way to the permanent exit door at Oulu this winter, Aapo Virtanen went out to find a new young goalkeeper and scoured all over Europe to find one. With his release clause at Partizan FK set to just €725,000, Oulu activated Nikola Boskovic's clause in his professional contract and agreed a three-year deal with the 17-year-old goalkeeper.

With pundits in his home country of Serbia rating him very highly after his time in Partizan's reserves - keeping four out of four clean sheets last season - he could be set to be a bargain or a frugal failure in Finland.

However, the latest transfer is not only the most expensive, but it is the transfer that has got Oulu fans extremely excited as Slavia Praha's Rostislav Hora joins the Champions League side for a fee of €1.9million. At just 16 years old, this seems to be a huge punt on such a young player. However, Hora has already represented Czechia's Under 21s five times, scoring one goal as a central midfielder.

Not only has Hora represented his country's youth sides, but at club level, the midfielder has already made his Champions League debut by appearing in both legs of Slavia Praha's first qualifying round tie with Shamrock Rovers after only just turning 16 years old. It will certainly be interesting to see if Virtanen places the same amount of trust on such young shoulders.

Moving out of the club, Oulu have sold €8million-worth of talent this winter already. The most significant sale is the departure of young goalkeeper Michel Cuenot who signed just last season, but after 14 clean sheets in 19 matches for Oulu's reserve team, SL Benfica have snapped up the 18-year-old Frenchman for a huge €6.5million after signing only on a free transfer for Oulu from FC Lyon last season. With Argentinian goalkeepers Augusto Batalla and Agustín Marchesín ahead of Cuenot in the Benfica line-up, it will be interesting to see how much game time he will receive in the coming years.

The second most expensive sale was another goalkeeper in the form of Olexiy Kolesnyk who has signed for Everton for a fee of €1.1million. The 20-year-old Portuguese shot-stopper appeared 20 times in all competitions last season for Oulu following his January 2022 arrival from Vitória de Guimaraes for €600K. With no other clear competitor at Goodison Park, it seems that Kolesnyk will become Everton's main back-up keeper after Jordan Pickford.

In response to the signature of Roope Riski by Oulu a few weeks ago, Oulu had to offset some of the wages that would be ploughed into Riski's reported €12,000 per week two-year deal. Noah Nurmi was the highest-paid player before Riski, earning €6,500 per week. Oulu finally managed to get rid of the defender for a fee of €350,000 as he heads to Denmark to play for AC Horsens.

Daniel Kamy Ntankeu has also left Oulu following a forgettable spell at the club. After his Team of the Season appearance in 2021 for Inter Turku, Ntankeu signed for Oulu. However, he now finds himself heading to Spain for €60,000 after Albacete offered the defender a get-out option.

With regards to departures on loan deals, ten players have left for the season. The most significant is possibly Nicolas Kamga, who joins Esbjerg for the season after making 60 appearances for Oulu in the past two seasons. After his €1.1million arrival last season, Haris Bergh is already on his 2nd loan spell as Hammarby take the player for the season. New free transfer signing Valentinos Michail has also joined IFK Mariehamn.

In other loan deals, Harouna Abou Demba joins Orgryte, Eemeli Hurtig joins KPV Kokkola, Hugo Keto joins Fredrikstad, Yaya Sanogo joins Seinajoen, Gabriel Twumasi joins Inter Turku, Olivier Verdon joins IFK Mariehamn and finally Simen Westly joins Honka Espoo. Mikko Eriksson and Kjeld Sloth have both been released at the end of their contracts.

Redvee: Cheers man, I really hope he does - I'm paying enough for him! :))

Scott: Indeed, his career has been a bit iffy everywhere he's been. However, his good record in Finland with Turun and Seinajoen really interested me. He does have plenty of work to do, though.

After beating all expectations originally, AC Oulu have finally been stopped in the Champions League.

"The end of a beautiful experience" was what AC Oulu manager Aapo Virtanen called his defeat to Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last night's Champions League last 16 second-leg.

The first-leg brought the tiniest bit of hope for Oulu at the Helsingin Olympiastadion as Erik Dahl equalised after Neymar's 10th minute opener for the Parisians. Youri Tielemans quickly put to bed any form of a shock just minutes later, before Neymar completed his brace in the second half.

The second leg, held at the all-new Paris Saint-Germain Stadium, built just last year became a very dominant affair for the hosts. From the first minute, Paris dominated the game before a Neymar penalty opened the scoring, leading to another three going in by Presnel Kimpembe, Tielemans before Sadio Mané finished off the scoring in the 85th minute, making the score 7-1 on aggregate.

Many pundits were highlighting the contrasts when it came to the two teams, with Oulu's squad accumulatively costing €4,061,720 in stark contrast to PSG's eye-watering €802,000,000 costing starting eleven.

The loss was always going to come for Oulu at some point. They were grossly overachieving by appearing in the group stages before they defeated Atlético Madrid in a result which will go down in history as one of the biggest giantkillings ever seen in European football.

With the journey starting in Hungary against Ujpest, to Switzerland against Young Boys, to Bulgaria against Levski Sofia, to Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk and then Portugal, Spain and Russia all in the group stages, the dream for this season ends in Paris.
A lot of exciting prospects joining the club, in which only promises for a bright future for the club if Aapo can get the best out of them. Obviously, Hora is the biggest deal of the lot and certainly looks a fantastic player. He has age on his side, which will allows him plenty of time to develop. With exposure to Champions League football, it could be the very beginning for him.

Some very tidy business outgoing, also. In particular the sale of Cuenot to Benfica for a hefty fee, all things considered. After picking him up on a free transfer, that is some profit made and emphasises the shrewdness of your deals. I expect more of this going forward!

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