Johan Hove of Strømsgodset is the latest Norwegian talent who is making a name for himself.
The 19-year-old has already made 30 senior appearances for Strømsgodset and, despite his side finishing the 2019 season in 11th place, Hove’s performances in the middle of the park haven’t gone unnoticed.
A source has told 90min that a whole host of top English clubs, including Manchester United and Everton, are keeping tabs on the youngster, while many have agreed that Hove could be the next talented Norwegian teenager to earn a move abroad.
So with this in mind, here are a few key things to know about Hove…
Comparisons With Martin Odegaard…
Real Madrid moved quickly to secure the services of Martin Odegaard way back in 2015, with the then 16-year-old joining from Strømsgodset.
There was a lot of pressure placed on some very young shoulders, but Odegaard is now showcasing his supreme talent on a regular basis in La Liga. On loan at Real Sociedad, he is the creator, finding pockets of space to work his magic. His performances have been so good that Real could even recall from his loan early.
Of course, Odegaard is a hugely talented player and it seems somewhat easy to label Hove the ‘next Martin Odegaard’, considering the fact that the Real man also played for Strømsgodset. However, there are clear comparisons.
Former Strømsgodset coach Bjørn Petter Ingebretsen explained to Nettavisen that Hove is a ‘huge talent and the greatest talent we have at the club.’ He went on to add: “He can now go as far the other talents we’ve had here.”
And when asked whether names such as Martin Odegaard sprung to mind, Ingebretsen revealed that this was indeed the case.
….But Hove Just Wants to Be ‘Johan Hove’
Some players enjoy being compared to stars with a similar type of game, while others prefer to focus solely on their own development and skills.
Hove is the latter type of professional. The youngster doesn’t want to be compared to the likes of Odegaard, and instead focuses on continuing to improve his own game. However, Hove did heap praise on his fellow Norwegian, declaring him one of the world’s greatest talents.
Hove told the media last year (as quoted by VG): “Now we have to take it easy here. So, Martin Odegaard is one of the world’s greatest talents. I’m going to be Johan Hove, and take new steps here at Strømsgodset, along with a group who want the very best for me.”
He’s a Complete Midfielder
Standing at just 5’8 tall, Hove isn’t the biggest presence in the middle of the park. But he uses his body extremely well, while his stamina is another strong point. The youngster never stops working, pressing and harrying his opponent – he isn’t afraid of a challenge, either. Hove is also a tough tackler who is more than willing to alleviate pressure on his side by thumping the ball upfield.
But equally he is very technically gifted and is rarely seen losing the ball. Knowing when to play the ball short to a teammate or open up the game by spreading play with a cross-field pass, Hove has a strong reading of the game already. However, for all his qualities, he does frequently commit fouls and when he takes the next step in his career, this will need to be eradicated from his game.
He Has Unique Technique
Over the years, professionals have adopted different styles and techniques, such as Cristiano Ronaldo’s dipping free-kicks, or David de Gea’s incredible use of his feet.
Hove is another who has unique technique. Striking the ball with the instep is not new, but the swerve the teenager has been able to get on his shots is remarkable. The midfielder is keen to get forward and try his luck from distance, and while it doesn’t always come off, his technique will only improve over time.
Last year saw Strømsgodset take on Haugesund. It was Strømsgodset who took the lead, but Haugesund soon equalised. However, as Hove received the ball 25 to 30 yards out, he took one touch and unleashed a shot which swerved and sent the goalkeeper in completely the wrong direction. The ball flew in, and it looked for all the world as if it had taken a massive deflection.
There was no deflection, though – just technique. Hove has trained himself to hit the ball with almost the ankle, allowing it to dip and swerve – causing the goalkeeper all sorts of problems.
After the game, he told the press (as quoted by Nettavisen): “That’s how I practice, although not many people believe it. I shoot like that with the ankle, and I hit well when I get such a screw on it.”
He’s Attracting a Lot of Interest from Abroad
There have been a number of Norwegian youngsters who have dominated the headlines in more recent times. Of course, Erling Haaland has been scoring goals for fun this season, while Odegaard has been lighting up La Liga. Sander Berge also completed his switch to the Premier League with Sheffield United in January, and the most recent name to be linked with a big money move is…Alexander Sorloth.
But a source has told 90min that a number of top English clubs have all sent scouts to watch Hove in action. Manchester United, Southampton, Everton, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion have all been keeping tabs on Hove, with many scouts from these clubs agreeing the emerging talent could be the next player to make the move abroad.
Considering Hove’s all-round ability as well as the mentality he has displayed in his rise to prominence, it is hardly a surprise that he’s on the radar of so many clubs.