Saturday 17 November 2018

Bayern Munich star Ryan Johansson stalls on Ireland commitment

Ryan Johansson. Photo: Getty
Ryan Johansson. Photo: Getty
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Bayern Munich teenager Ryan Johansson has opted to continue his international career with Luxembourg despite making a pair of appearances for the Ireland U-19 side last month.

The 17-year-old midfielder was born in Luxembourg to parents from Sweden and Ireland, and all three nations are keen.

It looked like the FAI had stolen a march when the player came in to play for Tom Mohan's side in a pair of friendlies with Wales.

But his family have since notified the Abbotstown authorities that Johansson intends to play with Luxembourg for now.

That came as a "surprise" to Mohan, although he acknowledged that the quirks of the eligibility rules might be a factor.

Johansson has already played competitive underage football for Luxembourg. Therefore, if he then switched to play competitive underage football for another country, he would be bound to that nation for the rest of his career.

However, he was free to take up the option to play in the friendly matches and has already played non-competitively for Sweden too.

"He's not closing the door with us. It's such a big decision so early, he's keeping his options open and that's it," said Mohan yesterday.

"He's a good lad and was happy in and around the camp and everything seemed good that he would be coming back in.

"We'll not cut our ties with Ryan. We'll keep monitoring him and see how he's getting on and keep in touch with Ryan. He's still a year young for U-19s so we will monitor the situation as it goes along."

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Mohan conceded that a small country like Luxembourg could seek to fast-track Johansson to senior level - a turn of events which could require Martin O'Neill's help.

"Martin would be very willing to help out in those situations," said Mohan. "But we've got to respect where Ryan is. I've spoken to the family and they are aware of all of the scenarios."

Mohan indicated that Southampton striker Michael Obafemi - who made a Premier League appearance last year - is still interested in sticking with Ireland, even though he missed the Welsh games.

Illness was the reason for his absence, although the player's mother gave an interview last year which made positive noises about a switch to Nigeria.

The ability to cross over is now part of the gig at underage level, and Mohan stressed the importance of the new national leagues at home - and the quality of his players with senior League of Ireland experience.

That said, he feels it is justified to take a look at overseas-born options, even if there may be doubts over their intentions.

"I think it's better to be left frustrated rather than regretful," he said. "If we don't go after them, you'll always regret it."

Irish Independent

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