A variety of true Football Manager legends have hailed from Scandinavia: Sharbel Touma, Nicklas Barkroth and Kennedy Bakircioglu to name just three. And if you want to stretch the geographical boundaries of the region, Andri Sigporsson from Iceland was perhaps the most famous of the ‘cult heroes’.
The above players could all be signed for relatively low amounts and – truth be told, just among friends – their legendary status was unworthy of their real life ability. With these ‘super players’ either excluded from the game or their respective abilities returned to reality, only the very best Scandinvian players were worthy of signing – and they didn’t come cheap. Alongside this, ability never tended to match the lofty price tags and I was all to often repelled from buying in this particular market.
In Football Manager 2013, this pattern seems to have been broken. The very first thing I noticed when on my usual multi-club trawl for bargains was that players in Sweden, Denmark and, in particular, Norway were very reasonably priced and with some talent to go alongside that. Intrigued by what Scandinavia had to offer to FM13, I started a season in the Swedish Premier League – Allsvenskan - with Örebro. During our summer break of 2012, I went on a Scandinavian scouting trip to see what I could find.
Tromsø IL will be a club familiar to those of us who remember watching the UEFA Cup Winners Cup on Thursday evenings. It seemed to be a tournament they were perpetually qualifying for and playing in, most notably against Chelsea in the late nineties. Based in the extreme Norwegian north – Tromsø is located over 200 miles inside the arctic circle – scouting them seemed like a good place to start before working my way south.
Ruben Yttergard Jenssen (Norwegian, 23) is best utilised as a deep lying playermaker in the centre of midfield. His most impressive stats (16 or above) are for his first touch, passing, technique, creativity, determination, flair and natural fitness. At a glance, his mental stats was highly impressive and he should be a player who will respond to a challenge. His initial value of £725k ensures he can be picked up on even the tightest of budgets. I found him to be a hugely effective ball-player, always keen to find space in order to pick passes.
His team-mate Kara (Senegalese, 22) is a bit of a FM stalwart now but his ability has not diminished through time. Operating best as an anchoring defensive midfielder, his best attributes are his tackling, bravery, determination, strength, stamina, heading and jumping. Standing 192cm tall, he is a formidable player to have sitting in front of your defence. On a good day, you should be be able to sign up for around £2m. Indeed, pairing Jenssen and Kara is not the worst idea in the world.
Moving further down the western coast of Sweden, you arrive in the city of Trondheim, home of Rosenborg BK. Perhaps the strongest and most recognisable power in Scandinavian football in modern times, they contribute three of the best value players to my scouting list. 17 year-old Ole Kristian Selnaes (Norwegian) has a huge amount of potential and already scores 16 or above on passing, technique, corners, first touch, composure, creativity and decision making. Tall and with years of improvement to come, his starting value of £22k is incredible.
His team-mate Borek Dockal (Czech, 23) operates best as an attacking winger on the right side but can really play anywhere along the midfield. He was my first signing in any FM13 game – for Ajax – and he cost me less than £400k. He was playing just behind the strikers and was lethal from around 20 yards. He is easily the best player I have signed so far on the game.
Stefan Strandberg (Norwegian, 21) is a central defender with strong technical and physical stats for his position and he still has more than enough time to improve. He represents astounding value at just £28k. A meal in Trondheim is more expensive.
Molde is located yet further down the coast from Trondheim and they have been the subject of some positive press in the UK recently: their manager is the soon-to-be-sought-after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and they have just retained the Tippeliegaen championship. Valued at £2.2m, Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Norwegian, 21) is the most expensive player on my list but he does merit mention given his attributes. He is a player who will sit behind the strikers and dictate forward play. He doesn’t represent as good value as, say, Borek Dockal but if you have a transfer budget that extends this far he is still a worthwhile buy.
Team-mate Etzaz Hussain (Norwegian, 18) is a cheaper option (starting at £550k) and he still has three or four years of improvement before reaching the peak of his attributes. Operating best as a deep lying playmaker, he has attributes that suggest he would comfortably control midfield play if used as part of a balanced selection.
Taking a detour to Denmark before returning to my duties in central Sweden, Nicklas Helenius (Danish, 20) is a giant of a striker (195cm tall) with excellent finishing and jumping attributes. His quickness over ground is impressive given his size and his mental stats indicate he would respond to your attempts to improve his play. His heading does need worked on (utilise your individual focus in training for this) but for less than £1m, he still represents great value. A tall, Danish striker called Nicklas: if that sounds familiar, just hope that the career trajectory won’t be.
One final stop at Helsingborg unearths left full-back Jere Uronen (Finnish, 17). Valued at just £55k, there is plenty of time and room for improvement. His initial attributes are good if not spectacular but you will sign a lot worse players for a lot more money.
Young, talented players with room to develop and improve are in plentiful supply in Scandinavia. With eastern European players becoming ever more expensive (given the influx of cash in that area), I can now see myself turning almost automatically to northern Europe to find the best players. Managing Örebro has opened my eyes to this changing scenery and I am hoping that I too can take advantage of the friendly transfer market conditions in the region.