With just more than a week left before the end of the Norwegian Eliteserien transfer window, our friends at Just Football introduce us to some of the most interesting talents that may leave the league this summer… or that have already done that!

Håkon Evjen (Bodø/Glimt)

The young Bodø/Glimt prospect is one of the hottest properties in Norwegian Eliteserien right now. Here we have someone who has been involved in professional football from a very young age. At just 17 he was making appearances for Bodø/Glimt in the second tier OBOSligaen and by the 2018 campaign, he was starting games at Eliteserien level.

Evjen caught the eye as a prospect last season but in 2019 it feels like he has moved up a gear to the next level. So far, the young starlet hardly missed a minute apart from one match and weighed in with 4 goals and 3 assists. The right-winger announced himself on the scene in just the second round, scoring an amazing last gasp winner in the thrilling 5-4 win against Mjondalen. Evjen has the potential to do the spectacular, as this goal proves.

I mentioned that Håkon Evjen is primarily a right-winger. But back in his youth days, he was operating more at left and right back. Looking towards the future he could easily develop into a central playmaker and become equally adept on either wing. His best qualities are a very fast pace, terrific movement off the ball and naturally very good technique. He is basically a great all-rounder with more than one string to his bow. Evjen works hard and unlike a lot of wingers, he is extremely useful from a defensive point of view. Perhaps this originates from his history of playing at full-back.

One surprising statistic involving Evjen is his average of 9.7 defensive duels per match. This is the 5th highest of any player in the entire Eliteserien 2019! He has won nearly 65% of those duels too, which is very impressive. Evjen is amazingly good at tracking back, using his pace and ability to read the game extremely well. He can time tackles well and he can be hard for anyone to shake off & just won’t let go. A typical sequence of him helping out defensively is highlighted below. In some ways, Evjen is quite raw but he is seriously talented, and Bodø/Glimt face a big struggle to keep him for much longer. They would love to have him until the end of the Eliteserien season but it’s highly likely someone will make a move this summer.

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On an opposition counter-attack, his position is highlighted. At that stage, he is well behind the play.
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Demonstrating fantastic pace and ability to read the danger, Evjen gets into a perfect position to intercept the ball.

 

Tobias Börkeeiet (Transferred to Brøndby, £1.17M)

Stabaek has long had a fine reputation for producing young talent. Börkeeiet was fortunate to come through a system headed by excellent Spanish youth coach Toni Ordinas, who then went on to become the manager at Stabaek. At just 19 years of age, Börkeeiet forced himself to be a mainstay in the Stabaek XI. He started 19 of the last 20 Eliteseiren matches in 2018. Nothing changed this campaign and he didn’t miss a single minute before his call up to the Norwegian U20 World Cup squad in May. Danish Superliga club Brøndby IF have just bought him for £1.3m, which for someone of this age and position feels like a substantial fee for any Eliteserien player.

If you look around, most sources will list Tobias Börkeeiet as a ‘defensive midfielder’. The general perception for this position is often a big strong & powerful type of player who is simply there as a ball winner and nothing else. I prefer to class Börkeeiet as more of a deep-lying playmaker though. It is true that in a positional sense he does sit quite deep and is certainly not a ‘box to box’ type of player. But he is equally not an anchorman or defensive midfielder. Börkeeiet possesses decent enough physical attributes for his age. His build is reasonably strong, without being anything special. From a technical perspective, he’s fairly no-nonsense and not very flashy with much flair. He does, however, possess good ability to pass a football.

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Great deep pass leading to an assist in the recent U20 World Cup.

Without a doubt, the best part of Börkeeiet’s game is the mental side. He appears to be a clever player with an especially great vision for a long-range pass. He averaged 8.38 long passes per game in 2019 Eliteserien for Stabaek, of which nearly 50% were accurate. Börkeeiet is the sort of player who is looking to get the game moving in a positive direction for his side. He also averages 23.6 forward passes per game and 12.79 passes to the final third of the field. He only produced four career assists for Stabaek but it was noticeable that he had two assists in the recent Under 20 World Cup. Perhaps being in a higher-class team will yield him better statistics. He has the potential to develop into a star player for Brøndby and it will be interesting to follow his progress.

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From deep inside his own half, Börkeeiet’s vision finds a great pass forward.
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Superb long-range pass finds its target and only poor control from the striker prevents this from being a goal.

 

Kristian Thorstvedt (Viking)

The Viking midfielder is another who has his roots in the Stabaek youth academy before moving to Stavanger at the start of last season. He performed well in the OBOSLigaen scoring 9 goals and providing 4 assists, helping Viking to secure promotion. A couple of his goals stood out as being spectacular and really good finishes. Thorstvedt showed plenty of promise in the second tier but of course, there were always question marks about stepping up to the next level. He has well and truly answered them so far! In just 14 Eliteserien starts he’s bagged 6 goals and also weighed in with 3 assists.

He doesn’t really stand out in many statistical categories but one which does catch the eye is his expected goals figure of 2.5. Thorstvedt has scored much more than that (6) and become known for producing a spectacular or difficult finish. I would say he can be defined more as an attacking midfielder but does have other all-round qualities. At times, the term ‘box to box’ or even Mezzala could spring to mind when describing his role. Thorstvedt is good at finding space in and around the penalty area. His off the ball positioning is a major positive. Below is a typical example demonstrating some of his strengths, making an excellent run whilst also producing a pinpoint accurate finish. If he continues to go from strength to strength either a bigger club in Eliteserien or someone from further afield is sure to snap him up.

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Great forward run exploiting space ahead.
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The result of this move is a lovely technical finish into the back of the net.

4

Chidera Ejuke (transferred to Heerenveen, £1.80m)

The 21-year old Nigerian has recently moved from Vålerenga to Eredivisie side Heerenveen for a fee close to the £2m mark. But what can fans expect from their new man? At just 19 he was spotted at Gombe United in Nigeria. Several Norwegian sides including Vålerenga have strong links to Africa and many a good talent has been plucked from this part of the world to play in Scandinavia. Ejuke made his Eliteserien debut back in April 2017. He was mostly used as a substitute in his first season at the club, but started the last 9 games of that campaign, scoring 4 goals in the process. Ejuke became a mainstay in the VIF side since then and especially in this current campaign has caught the eye with even more goals. This individual strike against Tromso stands out as his best effort.

Ejuke can play in pretty much any attacking position. He is probably best suited on the left-wing as an inside forward but incredibly versatile all-around. The Nigerian is great technically and is aided by some fantastic physical characteristics that lay the bedrock for the type of player he is. Two things sticking out are his pace and balance. This is a player with great agility who can dribble well technically. But his acceleration and an ability to instantly get that extra few yards on his opponent are key. With the 2nd most ‘progressive runs’ in the league this demonstrates his ability to run with the ball.

‘Chidi’ has attempted the most dribbles in the Eliteserien in 2019 (146) which is 50 clear of the next nearest man on the list! In terms of success rate, there is room for improvement at just 47%. However, through sheer weight of dribbles attempted this is a more than acceptable rate. Ejuke always appears very light on the feet and as aforementioned his balance is absolutely spot on. There is an air of grace about proceedings when he is on the ball and very nice on the eye to watch. This transfer to Heerenveen in the Eredivisie might just be the next stepping stone in his career. It looks a smart move to a team in which he should be able to shine rather than sit on the bench of a bigger club. He looks destined for greater things and could go all the way to the top. £1.80m will prove to be an absolute bargain.

 

Elba Rashani (Odd)

At 26, he is the oldest player on this list and has been on a different path compared to the others. Rashani’s origins are at Odd though where he highly impressed as a teenager. What resulted was a move to Danish side Brøndby in 2014 for a fee close to £700k. I think it would be unfair to say his time in Denmark was a flop, but he probably didn’t develop or move up to the next level like he would’ve hoped. A move back to Eliteserien at Rosenborg then occurred but again he became unsettled. In August 2017 Rahasni ‘returned home’ to Odd and since then he has been highly impressive. A 2018 campaign which included 7 goals and 6 assists fuelled rumours of a winter move elsewhere. But Odd retained him for 2019 and once again he has looked very sharp on the field.

Rashani can play in virtually any attacking role but is best suited on either the left or right-wing. These days he tends to reside more on the right. He has a very strong left foot and sometimes operates as an inside forward. However, his right peg isn’t bad either so he can stretch the field much in the same way a traditional winger would as well. Dribbling is one of Elba’s major strengths and his 96 attempted in the league so far this season is the second-highest out of anyone. Rashani has four assists this year and a couple of goals. He would probably hit the back of the net more but the Odd team he’s in doesn’t have that much creativity and he must produce most opportunities for himself. The sequence below demonstrates his excellent off the ball movement and clever finishing.

It’s probably about the right time for Rashani to take his next adventure outside of Norway and this time he could become an established talent in a higher class league.

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Rashani set to make a smart run into the box using his excellent off the ball skills.
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Nice control and touch with a deft finish into the back of the net.

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