Having joined Eredivisie side Willem II on-loan in January, Borussia Dortmund’s teenage prodigy Alexander Isak has been in stunning form and the goals have poured in. Could the Swedish striker - dubbed “the new Zlatan Ibrahimovic” - be BVB's next great No.9?
In his opening 12 league appearances for Willem II, Isak registered 12 goals. It is an achievement that Ronaldo at PSV Eindhoven, and Luis Suarez and Ibrahimovic at Ajax could not match in their opening dozen matches in the Eredivisie.
No other player in Holland outscored the Dortmund striker during that period. It meant the 19-year-old found the net more often in the Eredivisie after Matchday 19 than the likes of Hakim Ziyech (5), Hirving Lozano (6), Adrian Dalmau (10), Dusan Tadic (10) and Luuk de Jong (11); who happen to make up the top five scorers in the league this season.
It is a stunning return - that includes a hat-trick of penalties in the 3-2 win over Fortuna Sittard - and just what both player and parent club had in mind when they agreed upon a loan move this winter to further aid the development of this enormously talented striker.
"We want to give Alex, whom we believe to be great talent, the opportunity to gain a high level of match practice," sporting director Michael Zorc told Dortmund's website when announcing Isak’s Willem deal in January.
Watch: Isak: "Dortmund the right place to develop."
With Mario Götze back fit and in form starring as a false nine, Paco Alcacer supplying a seemingly endless amount of goals from the bench and Maximilian Philipp providing even further competition, Isak’s first-team opportunities were always going to be hard to come by this season.
However, that may not be so in 2019/20 and Isak is certainly proving over in the Netherlands that, not only is he ready to be given, but he also deserves a chance at the Signal Iduna Park once he returns to the club in the summer.
His distinct, 6’2” frame, silky first-touch, near-perfect technique and penchant for goals have obviously drawn lofty comparisons to countryman Ibrahimovic, but former coach Magnus Wickman already sees some distinct differences between the two.
"He's a bit shy and very humble,” Isak’s former Sweden Under-17 coach told Sky Sports. “He is a mature person when you talk to him and especially on the pitch. He's particularly intelligent on the pitch.
“His pace is quite high but not extreme. He is good with the ball and can link up with other players... He is more dynamic as he enjoys moving around and looking for space in the opposition half."
And Isak is already making his own mark on the game. Back in January, 2017 - just two weeks before signing for Dortmund - Isak first became Sweden’s second youngest player and then their youngest ever goalscorer in the space of just two games and five days.
Next season, he should be able to continue making his mark, this time in the Black and Yellow of Dortmund.
Currently, there are no out-and-out strikers in the Dortmund ranks in the same ilk as Isak. Götze has the technique and link-up play, Alcacer the devastating eye for goal and Philipp the pace, but Isak combines each of those traits while adding a considerable aerial threat to the mix too.
He has already played 119 Bundesliga minutes across five appearances for Dortmund to date - all of which came last season - but when he returns to the club, armed with greater experience of professional football and his confidence soaring, the former AIK youngster could add some serious presence to and already fearsome front line that includes the likes of Götze, Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, Raphael Guerreiro and Jacob Bruun-Larsen.
Favre already knows exactly what Isak can do; the youngster having scored the very first goal of the Swiss coach’s Dortmund tenure during pre-season. There are also few, if any, better coaches in the world at developing talents as the 61-year-old strategist: just ask Reus, Sancho, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Max Kruse, Granit Xhaka, Mahmoud Dahoud and Christoph Kramer, among others.
“It is a team that is investing in young people and has a very good idea of it, so it fits me quite well,” said Isak about Dortmund back in 2017. “I felt like Dortmund was the right place for me to develop.”
And he is well on course to become one of Favre’s latest apprentices to go to the next level under his tutorship. Having seen the emergence of Sancho, in particular, over the past 12 months; Isak, his club and the Yellow Wall should be excited about what the future holds.