Austin FC officially signed international center back Leo Vaisanen to a four-year contract through the end of the 2026 season, with a club option for the 2027 season.
Vaisanen was unable to be in Austin for the announcement, as the deal is pending the receipt of the player’s P-1 Visa and ITC.
The 25-year-old Finnish central defender was lured from Swedish club IF Elfsborg with an estimated $1.8 million transfer fee. Vaisanen made 94 appearances for Elfsborg, recording four goals and four assists over the last three seasons.
The signing comes just as defender Ruben Gabrielsen is expected to break his Austin FC contract to return to Lillestrøm SK in his homeland of Norway.
Prior to IF Elfsborg in Sweden’s first-division Allsvenskan league, Vaisanen made 45 appearances for FC Den Bosch, a second-division Dutch club.
As a young player, Väisänen spent time in the academy system of Finnish club HJK Helsinki, making his professional debut in 2016.
According to Austin FC’s release, Leo has 23 caps for Finland’s national team, including playing in seven UEFA Nations League matches, six FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and one match at 2020 Euros. He debuted for the senior team in 2019.
Austin FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna keyed in on Vaisanen’s fit with Austin’s style of play and international experience in today’s press release.
“His skill set is an excellent fit for our style of play, and his quality, leadership and international experience will all serve him well here in Austin.”Claudio Reyna
January 4, 2023
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What does Austin FC get with Leo Vaisanen?
Leo Vaisanen fills an immediate need at starting center back with the impending departure of Ruben Gabrielsen. He likely brings a similar Scandinavian lunch pail attitude to the central defender role. In a quick tale of the tape of the two players, Leo is 5 years younger and stands 1 inch taller.
With Vaisanen, Austin FC believes they have found a long-term solution at the center back position—offering a rare four-year agreement to the Finnish defender. (Gabrielsen was offered a two-year agreement last January, with an option for the 2024 season.)
Looking back at our rumor roundup in 2021, Austin may have originally wanted Vaisanen over Gabrielsen. It’s hard to say.
Last offseason, both players popped up on our rumor radar as ATX targets about the same time. As things played out, Vaisanen extended his contract with IF Elfsborg in late December 2021; shortly after Austin signed Gabrielsen (in January 2022).
Eurosport writer Andrew Miller tweeted “Leo Väisänen has great mobility, good positioning, composed on the ball and more than capable under pressure. Suitable upgrade from Ruben Gabrielsen in my opinion.”
What do you think about Austin FC signing Leo Vaisanen in 2023?
“Austin FC is exactly what I’m looking for in the next stage of my career.”
— Leo Vaisanen
Leo Vaisanen Player Bio
Name: Leo Väisänen
DOB: July 23, 1997
Born: Helsinki, Finland
Leo Vaisanen Stats
Cover Photo courtesy IF Elfsborg