Another Arsenal academy goalkeeper has moved to Finland, with Dejan Iliev joining HJK Helsinki from AS Trencin.

Dejan Iliev after signing for HJK Helsinki (Photo via
Dejan Iliev after signing for HJK Helsinki (Photo via

After a long association with Arsenal, Dejan Iliev left the Gunners for Slovakian side AS Trencin in February 2022.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper had spent almost a decade with Arsenal, including a number of loan spells around Europe, and it was time for him to make the next step in his career.

But only signing a one-and-a-half-year deal with AS Trencin, it was always likely Iliev would be on the move again soon.

12 months later, Finnish club HJK Helsinki have confirmed the signing of Iliev on a one-year deal with an option to extend by a further year.

HJK were the top team in Finland last season, winning the league for the third consecutive campaign and making the first qualifying round for next season’s Champions League campaign.

Whether or not they make it into Europe’s top-tier competition, Iliev looks certain to at least have the chance to play in a team competing at the very top of their domestic game.

That’s rarely been true for the goalkeeper in recent seasons, with most of his former clubs finishing in midtable since his Arsenal departure.

It’s been a while since HJK’s last appearance in the Champions League group stage (1998/99), but they played in the Europa Conference League in 2021/22 and then the Europa League in 2022/23. They’re heading in the right direction.

Dejan Iliev in training with Arsenal (Photo via Iliev on Instagram)
Dejan Iliev in training with Arsenal (Photo via Iliev on Instagram)

Iliev will join Arsenal loanee Ovie Ejeheri in Finland, with the 19-year-old goalkeeper on loan at SJK Seinäjoki until the summer.

“I am very excited and happy,” Iliev said. “My expectations are high and I know what kind of responsibility I have when I play for a big club like HJK. I will do my best for the team in every training session and game.”