The Scottish Premiership season was concluded earlier this week following the FA’s consultation with all 12 top-flight sides. For QPR loanee Niko Hamalainen, his strong season with Kilmarnock has also come to an end now heading back to London.
Born in Florida, Hamalainen came through the ranks of FC Dallas’ Academy before moving to QPR in 2014. However, first team minutes for the EFL Championship side have been hard to come by, with Hamalainen earning only six combined appearances at QPR.
After an unsuccessful loan spell with LAFC in 2019, Hamalainen joined Kilmarnock and became a starter in the SPFL. In total this season, the 21-year-old has made 32 appearances in Scotland, registering two assists in league play.
His loan was not extended by Kilmarnock however and could very well be searching for a new club this summer. Hamalainen’s current contract with QPR is set to expire June 30th, but could be pushed longer due to the pause of the EFL Championship season.
I just wanted to say thank everyone at Kilmarnock (the fans of killie, my teammates, coaching staff, medical staff, media team) for a loan experience I’ll always be grateful for and will never forget. Thank you guys ? @KilmarnockFC pic.twitter.com/BKE4sP0mem
— Niko Hamalainen (@Niko_Hamalainen) May 18, 2020
“It is never easy to see players depart the club, especially in these circumstances where the guys have not had the chance to say goodbye to the crowd and the fans have not had the opportunity to thank the players for their contribution,” Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer said in an interview with the club’s website.
Eligible to represent both the U.S. Men’s National Team and Finland, Hamalainen will also have a decision to make regarding his international future. Mainly he’s played for Finland’s Youth National Teams before earning his first senior cap in Jan. 2019 in a friendly against Estonia.
He was also rewarded by U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Jason Kreis back in Aug. 2019, being called up to an American team for the first time at any level.
A talented and versatile left back, Hamalainen will have a major decision to make over the summer with the 2020 European Championships pushed to 2021. Finland qualified for the summer tournament for the first time in the country’s history after posting a 6-0-4 record during qualifying.
Hamalainen may find it tough representing the USMNT with several talented left backs in the system. Regardless, the young defender excelled in Scotland this season which could see him earn a new contract domestically and a new challenge in the United States.