The Haaland-Kane hybrid who dreams of scoring for Arsenal

Interview Arsenal striker Mika Bayreuth, who is on loan at Sturm Graz, spoke to me about his excellent form in the Austrian Bundesliga.
It’s not often you hear a professional athlete call himself a “s**t”, especially when they’re in the kind of goalscoring form that young Arsenal striker Mika Bayreuth is.

Haaland-Kane

The 21-year-old has made an immediate impact at Austrian Bundesliga title contenders Sturm Graz since arriving on loan in January, scoring five goals in his first seven games in all competitions until the end of this season.

So what happened to self-deprecation?
“I’ve said before that if I could compare myself to any other player I would say st [Erling] Haaland and st [Harry] Kane! One of the hybrids is in very bad shape,” he tells me, smiling.

“Like Haaland, I really only care about scoring goals. If you offer me to touch the ball twice and score two goals I will accept it. For me, it’s all about scoring goals.
“[But] there are different aspects of the game when it is not possible to score goals when the ball is deep, so it is about combinations, linking play, holding the ball like Kane. These are two different variables on the pitch.”

There are some easy similarities between Bayreuth and arguably the two best strikers in world football.

Like Haaland, who moved to Red Bull Hamburg as a teenager, he is sharpening his goalscoring instincts in Austria, albeit not in an elite environment. And like Kane, he has experienced both the positives and negatives of being loaned out by a big North London-based club.

Kane was sent off on four separate occasions by Tottenham Hotspur before achieving explosive success at the same age during the 2014–15 season.

Before joining Sturm Graz, Biereth enjoyed a successful half-season at Motherwell, where he scored six goals in 15 matches, which was followed by a much less profitable stint at Dutch club RKC Waalwijk in 2022–23.

“Motherwell was massive, almost like a comeback because the first loan cycle was nowhere near what we had planned,” he recalls.

“There were a lot of reasons but I don’t think I ever got a fair opportunity to play. I needed to play games and Motherwell were very keen to do that before I arrived and then thankfully when I arrived they played me a lot and I was able to repay them by scoring a few goals.”

Motherwell were unhappy with Arsenal’s decision to recall Bayreuth and manager Stuart Kettlewell admitted it was “extremely disappointing” to lose a player who had made a “huge impact” and was “well-loved” by the supporters. .

But a move to Sturm Graz, who are not only competing for the league title – they are currently second in the table and two points behind reigning champions Austria – but are also playing European football in the Conference League, Both Arsenal and Bayreuth appealed. So much so that he was keen to join on a permanent basis rather than on a temporary basis.

“He [Andreas Schicker, Sturm Graz’s sporting director] himself even said that he had tried to make a permanent [transfer]. I was ready for that too but Arsenal were not allowing me to go,” Biereth revealed.

Why did he want to go?

“The idea of settling somewhere and not thinking about different houses, different places and different cars and all those extra things, gets a little boring after a while. Trying to find a house,” he says, succinctly revealing a side of the credit system that is rarely discussed: turmoil and uncertainty. “[But] it was very simple that I was not for sale in January.”

There were other reasons also.

“And the club plays in European competitions, they are at the top of their league. It’s a very good club in terms of stepping up, a lot of players have come [here] in the past and then been allowed to be sold to take the next step in their careers.”

This is an accurate assessment. Shikar outlined the club’s recruitment strategy in an interview with me in January.

“The idea is to achieve success on the field with a team that is built around some more experienced leaders, surrounded by young, talented players who we want to develop, who are looking forward to their careers at Sturm. ready for the next phase and which we can sell for a profit,” he explained.

The appeal of Sturm Graz is particularly strong given the recent track record of forward players. The club has sold its star striker to a club in one of Europe’s “Big Five” leagues in each of the past three seasons, including the sale of Bierreth’s former strike partner for Denmark’s U19s, Rasmus Hjlund, to Atalanta in 2022. Has been given.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 20: Mika Bierleth of Arsenal before the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2022 in London, England.

The whole team is kind of working towards giving the strikers a lot of chances to score a lot of goals,” says Biereth. “That was also a big factor in me coming here. I thought if I came here I could score and I have done that so far.”

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Arsenal will keep a close eye on his progress. Mikel Arteta’s side have performed brilliantly recently, plundering 31 Premier League goals in just seven matches in 2024, but that has not quelled speculation that there could be a potential reshuffle in the striker department in the summer.

Gabriel Jesus’ spell at Arsenal has been plagued by injuries, while Eddie Nketiah has slipped down the pecking order and has not started a league game since New Year’s Eve.

The change could potentially work in Bayreuth’s favour, but either way, his future at the club will be decided at the end of this season with just one year left to run on his contract.

“I’m on loan so all I can do is score as many goals as I can and play as well as I can so that I can get a chance when I come back in the summer,” he says.

But Biereth is also a realist. He admits that breaking into the first-team squad now will be harder than it was a few years ago when he signed from Fulham on the move to Arsenal.

“When Bukayo [Saka] and Gabi [Martinelli] came into the team and Emile [Smith Rowe] it was kind of the time when Arsenal were struggling,” he says.

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“It was still very difficult to overcome but easier than now. Every game matters now because one defeat… Aren’t City and Liverpool going to lose? So those three [clubs] are really competitive game for game.

Yet, even though he has not played a first-team game for the Gunners, it is clear that he has learned a lot from working with the club’s youth coaches and training with international stars.

“It’s a simple game, but how much there is and how much detail there is, I learned that at Arsenal,” he says.

“The more you train with the first team, the more you get used to it and these types of training sessions put me in a good position to play with the 21s and then play on my loans.

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“One of the first seasons I was there I was trying to catch the ball and big Gaby [Magalhaez] hit me from behind. It felt like a car had crashed! He is very old and I was only 18 at the time. Just things like that, the speed and physicality of it [helped].”

Bayreuth cites Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Aaron Ramsdale as the players who helped him the most and Gabriel Martinelli as the best player he has trained with. “He’s very smart and fast at everything he does.”

Establishing himself at Arsenal would be the ideal outcome but Bayreuth are philosophical about his future.

“My biggest priority is to play first-team football. I’m not too keen on sitting on the benches and just watching. I want it to be like the six months I spent at Motherwell and started here: playing games and scoring goals.

“If there’s a higher level I can do where I’ll just watch, I’d love to drop down a level so I can play the game. I just have to figure out where the sweet spot is in that whole process.

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