After spending the last five months on loan at Henning Bergâ€™s Lillestrom, Arsenalâ€™s Havard Nordtveit has completed a loan move to newly-promoted Bundesliga side Nurnberg where it is expected that the Bavarian outfit will be able to offer the 19-year-old a chance at regular, high-level, first team football.
Eager for the deal to go through after expressing his excitement over the deal last week, Nordtveit has now been granted an opportunity to test himself against some of the best attacking players in Europe. The Norwegian upstart impressively established himself at the centre of Lillestromâ€™s defense last season, although his talents will now be tested once again as the young defender will now face a different calibre of player.
Whilst it is true there are a number of accomplished forwards plying their trade in the Norwegian Tippeliga, there is no doubt he will face a stiffer challenge from forward partnerships containing Mario Gomez and Luca Toni at Bayern, as well as Grafite and Edin Dzeko at the champions, Wolfsburg. Coupled with the level of defending in the Bundesliga, which is frequently criticised as substandard (the average goals per game column beaten only by the Dutch Eredivisie), Nordtveit faces a challenge to prove he is the real deal.
However, if one is to believe Arsene Wengerâ€™s soundbites when Nordtveit arrived in North London in the summer of 2007, he will prosper in a league that rewards the beautiful game. According to the Professor, “technically and tactically he is already there. He is an intelligent boy with good vision. He has a good pass out from the back and he is strong too.”
The optimism surrounding Nordtveit has also infected others, Nils Johan Semb, twice former coach of the Norwegian national team, labelled Nordtveit as the “brightest defensive talent in Europe” on the eve of his move to England. This may have been slightly over-optimistic given other similar claims the football world witnesses every year but there is no doubting the 19-year-old’s potential as a classy centre-back in the mould of his hero, Fabio Cannavaro.
His move to Lillestrom, even though an undoubted step up from English reserve-team football, can be considered a preparation phase for the challenge of European football. He impressed those who witnessed him flourish as a huge potential in Lillestrom’s youthful team, now he must impress those have become accustomed to watching established international defenders.
If Nordtveit is given ample opportunity at Nurnberg to further his football education and add a greater physical presence to his tactical and technical abilities, he could prove to be yet another success story in the never-ending flow of Nordic footballers to the continent. Arsene Wenger, Nils Johan Semb and Scandinavia hope Nurnberg give this excellent young prospect a chance.
There is only limited footage of Havard Nordtveit, but what we can bring you is evidence of the defender’s bravery as his had a tooth knocked out during last season at Lillestrom. (Watch here.)
In addition, an interview from back in 2007 when Nordtveit arrived at Arsenal can be seen here.
A huge shout-out freelance sports writer Ben Sibley for sending us this article.