Jens Petter Hauge: Viking Invasion

Amongst Milan's recent signings, one stands out. He is young, he only turns 21 on Monday, and he is completely unproven in the five major European Leagues, having only ever played in Norway. Milan fans met him for the first time when he scored and grabbed an assist against us in our Europa League third qualifying match. Yet there was something different about him, something almost magical, something that is difficult to put a finger on. Perhaps it is simply because he is part of our Viking invasion.

The Viking has landed

Jens Petter Hauge was born within the arctic circle, in a small place called Bodø in northern Norway. Despite the extreme cold weather, football is still the most popular sport there. So it was only natural that he should join the local football team's youth academy, Bodø/Glimt, which he did at the age of 13. His talent was obvious, and he made his senior team debut at the age of 16. Scoring a hat trick on that debut in a Norwegian cup match immediately set him apart as a promising young talent.

His first goal in the Norwegian top flight, Eliteserien, made him the youngest goalscorer ever in that league. Despite this honor, his team were relegated that year to the second division. The following season he made 13 assists and scored two goals as Bodø/Glimt were promoted back to the Eliteserien again. 

Norway's latest golden boy?

The next season, however, he was eclipsed by other players and lost his starting position. Halfway through the season, he was loaned to a second division team, Aelesunds FK, but still only made six appearances, and returned back to Bodø.

Last year, with the exit of a couple of more experienced players who left for other clubs, Hauge gained a starting berth again. He made 28 appearances in the league and scored seven goals and also made two assists for Bodø/Glimt.

He has only just begun

This year was his breakout year, though. Hauge scored 19 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions for Bodø/Glimt, including the one against Milan in the Europa League. He also had ten assists this season in all competitions.

No wonder, then, that Milan raced to sign him before the transfer deadline, having reportedly scouted him since June. Those numbers are massive, even if there are obvious differences between Serie A and Eliteserien. Signing a young, talented player like him for only €5 million is not so much a risk as it is a brilliant sporting decision, especially to be able to reinforce a spot that we needed more depth at, and hopefully be able to hang onto him for five years.

The future of Milan?

Hauge is a right-footed left winger, which helps to keep defenders guessing, and he has decent pace, too, which makes him a bit of a nightmare to defend. He can also play as an attacking midfielder, and has some experience playing on the right wing as well. 
He loves to have the ball and is very skilled at both dribbling and controlling the ball. He is excellent at winning duels, and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. If he has a weakness, it could be his crossing accuracy. However, being so young, he really hasn't played enough to show a consistent weakness, and he has plenty of time to grow and improve.

One of his biggest strengths is his mentality, as he has plenty of confidence and never doubts his abilities on the pitch. Despite the move from a small town to a big city and a small club to a big club, that mentality should help him keep his head in the game and help to continue his impressive form. He will also more than likely spend time on the bench again at Milan, behind more experienced players. However, considering his raw talent and impressive form at such a young age, that is unlikely to last very long.

Part of Norway's rising generation

Hauge has consistently featured for Norway's youth teams from the U15 side through the U21 side. Most notably, he played alongside the scoring phenom Erling Haaland, as well a the very talented Leo Østigård in last year's U20 Euros with some very impressive performances. The same week Bodø/Glimt played Milan in the Europa League, Hauge would receive his very first call up for the Norwegian senior team, and is with the squad this week for a Euro qualifier and Nations League matches.

His transfer to Milan made headlines, not only in Norway, but also for Milan fans all over the world. The current club successes of a rising generation of talented Norwegian players like Haaland, Østigård, Martin Ødegaard, Sander Berge, Kristoffer Ajer, and more may have increased the sudden interest of fans, hoping that we were signing the next Norwegian phenom. Or perhaps it was simply Hauge's impressive performance against Milan at the San Siro. Either way, Milan fans are very excited by his arrival.

From the arctic circle to the fires of Milan

One thing is certain, and that is that Hauge left a team who are 18 points clear of the next team in the Eliteserien, and virtually guaranteed to win the title this year. His impressive goal and assist tally is a big reason why they will win, and he gave that trophy up when Milan called. He gave that title up to most likely sit on the bench and be used as a sub instead of playing every match and being a star at home. But that is okay, because even as a sub, goals are scored in the blink of an eye, and Hauge certainly knows how to score.

Hauge is the first Norwegian player for Milan since Steinar Nilsen spent a year at the club in the 1997-98 season. Expectations are very high for Hauge because he has shown so much potential at such a young age. Signing young players is always a gamble, but perhaps it is his confidence that makes fans believe so firmly in his future. Regardless of why there is so much faith in him, he is a young Scandinavian player who joins the more experienced Ibrahimović and Kjær as a part of Milan's fierce new Viking invasion.

This post inspired by the music of Iron Maiden's "Invaders"

Jens Petter Hauge: Viking Invasion Jens Petter Hauge: Viking Invasion Reviewed by Elaine on 4:59 AM Rating: 5
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