Every West Ham supporter I speak to is very excited about the possibilities for the upcoming season. With our arrival at the Olympic Stadium, and a hard-working, hardto-beat, easy-on-the-eye team playing in it, it’s not hard to see why we’re excited. Th ere is also excitement at our long-term prospects with this move off ering us the chance to move to the next level, regularly chase European qualifi cation and no longer sit at the wrong end of the table worrying about relegation. One player who may well play a major role in this aim will be the Norwegian Havard Nordtveit, who, somewhat under the radar, joined the club from the German outfi t Borussia Monchengladbach at the beginning of July.
Arsenal fans, in particular, might fi nd themselves slightly envious at this point. Arsene Wenger personally travelled to Norway to scout the then 16-year old, aft er which he signed the teenager in July 2007. Big things were predicted for him and the move seemed to make sense for all parties, but despite being a regular fi xture in the reserves, he never got a game in the fi rst team.
Eventually, he was sent out on loan multiple times and then signed by the German team, where he has fl ourished, impressing in a number of positions. So what can Nordveit off er? Well, he’s been versatile and can play in a number of positions. In recent seasons, however, he has favoured the more advanced role of defensive midfi elder. In his time in Germany, he has excelled there, not only providing reliable cover for the defence but also gaining a reputation for being calm and collected on the ball, distributing to his teammates to get attacks started whilst retaining defensive solidity
Indeed, his passing accuracy whilst in Germany was 83 per cent, which by any measure is impressive. Better still, he also chips in with the odd goal from time to time, fi nding the back of the net four times last season. Of Nordveit, current Monchengladbach manager André Schubert has said: ‘He is an absolutely reliable player. He has a great strength of will and there’s a lot of power and energy in his game. He has a brilliant mentality and takes on every challenge, regardless of which position he’s in and where he’s needed.’ Praise indeed, and if anyone knows what a good player is, it’ll be the manager of a German football team. Th is has all the hallmarks of another excellent Bilic signing, and what an opportunity this is for the player to show his former north London suitors what they missed out on. BBM