Everything you need to know about Sunderland and Sweden teenage prospect Benji Kimpioka

Sunderland youngster Benji Kimpioka burst onto the scene with a debut goal against Carlisle United - but what else do we know about the Swedish teenager?

Thursday, 11th October 2018, 3:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th October 2018, 3:33 pm
Benji Kimpioka playing for Sunderland.

The 18-year-old forward has been regarded as one of the club's brightest prospects for a while, and due to the Black Cats' injury worries up front, Sunderland fans could see a lot more of the speedy teen this campaign.

We take a closer look at the young attacker, who has gained plenty of admirers in recent weeks.

Benji Kimpioka playing for Sunderland.

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What's his background?

Kimpioka signed for Sunderland in 2016 from Swedish side IK Sirius.

The striker started his Black Cats career in the under-18s squad, where his impressive performances attracted interest from Premier League clubs.

Last summer, Arsenal were reportedly ready to make a £5million bid for Kimpioka and his Swedish compatriot Joel Asoro - but the pair stayed put.

In November last year, Kimpioka scored a hat-trick against Newcastle for the under-18s, initiating a steep rise to the senior team.

Weeks later, the Swede was promoted to the under-23s side, where he became a regular under Elliott Dickman.

Following his arrival at the Stadium of Light in May, Jack Ross quickly become aware of the promising tyro and integrated Kimpioka into the first-team squad during pre-season.

A late equaliser against Hartlepool United vindicated Ross' decision, but the Sunderland manager will have been just as impressed at the way Kimpioka got his head down and continued to perform for the under-23s - before eventually receiving a first-team call-up

What is his best position?

Kimpioka is a versatile forward who has played across the front line for both the young Black Cats and the Swedish youth teams.

The Swede can play on either flank or just behind the striker but appears most comfortable leading the line.

His pace, power and relentless work rate is a nightmare for defenders, and it's often unpredictable exactly what the striker will do next.

What have people said about him?

Of course, Kimpioka is far from the finished product - who is at the age of 18?

Following an under-23s game against Norwich last month, Dickman was quick to praise the young Swede, but admitted Kimpioka still has "a lot of developing to do".

Ross is very fond of the forward, hence Kimpioka's promotion to the senior side.

"He has good attributes to his game but a lot that he needs to improve upon," said Ross after the victory over Carlisle.

"As a striker you can't ask anymore than that, to score so early in the game. Off the ball there's a lot he needs to improve on but he was a threat throughout."

Should fans be worried about him leaving?

Kimpioka is good friends with his former team-mate Asoro, who helped his countryman settle in at the Stadium of Light.

But Asoro, 19, left the Black Cats in the summer to join Championship side Swansea - so should Sunderland fans be worried about losing Kimpioka too?

Fortunately, the striker appears incredibly grateful for the opportunity he's received in the North East, and is keen to develop his game on Wearside.

"Everyday I work hard for the opportunities like this and I got one which I'm very thankful for. I thank God and I thank the manager.," said Kimpioka after the Carlisle win.

"I should have scored more, with the header and the other chance. I should score those chances, but you have to be patient. Hopefully I get more chances and I'll make sure I score them."

How often will he play this season?

With Charlie Wyke out until the new year, Ross is one man down in the attacking department.

However, with Josh Maja, Jerome Sinclair and Chris Maguire all likely to be available after the international break, Kimpioka is still some way down the pecking order.

Depending on injuries, the Swede will probably move between the senior team and under-23s side this season.

Hopefully the taste of first-team football will give Kimpioka a glimpse of what is possible and make the striker hungry for more.