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Exclusive: Havard Nordtveit – Hoffenheim move, Julian Nagelsmann and facing Liverpool

The Norwegian international discussed his time at Hoffenheim and his experience of English clubs.

Mathew Nash

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Havard Nordtveit
Photo: Getty Images

This summer West Ham United utility man Havard Nordtveit called time on his career with the Hammers, after just one season.

Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer he suffered from the London outfits’ own struggles, the change of stadium and being asked to play out of position at right-back.

After just 21 games for the Hammers, he headed back to Germany, where he had such success previously.

Now, speaking exclusively to The Boot Room, the Norwegian international has discussed working under an exciting new manager, facing Liverpool in the Champions League and coming through the ranks at Arsenal.

Plenty of teams in Germany would have wanted Nordtveit this summer.

He built a fine reputation in the Bundesliga during his time with Gladbach.

In fact, just hours before his July transfer was announced, he was being linked with Bundesliga rivals Hamburg.

In the end, it was Hoffenheim who snapped up the Norwegian. They had just finished fourth in the Bundesliga and it was a brilliant move for the 27-year-old.

(Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)

But, as the former Hammer explained from Germany, it has been a topsy-turvy season:

“It went well in the first couple of months. But then my games weren’t as good as I was hoping for,” he admitted. “Then obviously I was not good enough for the team. I have been training hard and lately, it has been back to normal again.

“It’s good to be back in Germany and also I needed half a season to get to know the new coach and the new system. I am looking forward to the rest of the campaign.”

Nordtveit started the season playing in the Hoffenheim back three, but found himself out of the squad entirely from mid-December until last month.

Despite his problems, he did not sulk and simply worked hard to get back into the first-team:

“I am not that person,” proclaimed the Norwegian international. “I have been in that situation before with West Ham and Gladbach. It’s all about giving everything you can instead of moaning.

“You have to be positive,” he continued. “This is a team sport. You have to give your best for the team. If that means you are playing or not you know that you will get the chance in the end.”

This season Hoffenheim and Nordtveit were challenging for the Europa League.

However, at the start of the campaign, the Bundesliga outfit were in Champions League action for the first time in their history.

They took on Premier League side Liverpool in the qualifying rounds, with Nordtveit playing in both games.

Liverpool were not yet working under Mohamed Salah power but still proved far too strong for their German opponents over two legs:

“We knew they were strong. With their attacking forwards they are brutal. We had a very good home game. But in the end, it is a little better a feeling to know we went out of the play-offs against a team that reached the finals,” Nordtveit explained, with a sense of vindication for his club’s exit.

“What Klopp has done with the club is massive and also Salah, at this time, maybe is Europe’s best player.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Hoffenheim’s entrance to the Champions League was masterminded by their brilliant young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The 30-year-old is just a few years older than the Norwegian but has proven himself a top manager:

“He is fantastic,” said an excited Nordtveit. “He has great experience and his own style of play. It is a lot of tactics for every new player. Also when I came in then there was a lot of new things I had to learn quite quick.

“I am now starting to see that I learn something in myself to get into the rhythm that he wants. He is like a young, bright, football professor.”

He then gave him high praise, by comparing him to his former Gladbach boss Lucien Favre:

“He reminds me a little bit of Lucien Favre. He thinks about football 24/7. Small details, always, which can mean we take the three points.

“If I could compare him with someone it would be Lucien Favre, which is not a bad comparison.”

Nagelsmann’s clear ability has seen him linked with taking over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Norwegian came through the ranks at Arsenal, but made it clear that he spent most of his time working with the current Arsenal assistant Steve Bould:

“I spoke with him of course but he was more observing the training. I was more with the reserve team.

“I was more with Steve Bould, the legend. He was quite important for me, a really good guy. I think he was one of the more important guys in Arsenal when I was there.”

Working under the Arsenal legend as a young defender must have been a big learning experience for the Hoffenheim player, who speaks highly of his time at Arsenal:

“I went quite early, about 16,17,” remembered the talented utility man. “It was perhaps the most important choice I did in my career because there I learnt how to do the basics in football.

“I did not play much with the first-team but the experience of training with the first-team and getting to know English football and a really high standard was really important to me.

(Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images)

“From there, when I moved to Germany, I had the perfect base to have an OK career.

“Jack Wilshere was there before he finally broke through to the first-team. We had Wojciech Szczesny now second goalkeeper for Juventus. Many of the players are having big careers.  

“For me and a lot of the players we were quite lucky to have this opportunity.”

But Nordtveit still remembers his time fondly. He still follows the club, where good friend Granit Xhaka is also playing.

The Gunners have been unable to put a smile on the face of Nordtveit by picking up the Europa League trophy in Arsene Wenger’s final year.

However, with London outfit set to compete in the competition again next season, under a new manager, the two could well come face-to-face. 

That would be an opportunity Hoffenheim’s intrepid Norwegian would relish.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Arsenal

Could Arsenal’s new project lure Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles to London?

The Newcastle captain had a terrific debut season in the Premier League.

Liam Thomas

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Jamaal Lascelles
Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles enjoyed a terrific debut season in the Premier League and as such has found himself the subject of many transfer rumours since the window reopened on the 17th May.

However, according to the Chronicle Live, it would take a hefty transfer fee to make Newcastle part ways with one of their prized assets and captain.

Despite this, Arsenal should consider making a move for Lascelles to strengthen their defence and there’s no hiding the fact new Gunners boss Unai Emery is concerned about his sides defensive frailties.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

At 24 years of age, Lascelles has the youth and energy needed to survive the harsh Premier League calendar and this is something Arsenal’s defence has lacked in recent seasons; a defence which under Arsene Wenger became lazy and lax.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery has already invested in Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos to strengthen his back line, but it might take a considerable amount of persuasion to convince Lascelles to follow suit and make the Emirates stadium his new home.

However, it’s not every day a club of Arsenal’s statue come knocking, and to be part of the clubs new exciting chapter may be the perfect antidote to lure Lascelles away from St James’ Park.

“Nothing changes. The speculation might not even be true. Since I was a kid, there’s always been teams interested, speculation, paper talk and stuff on Twitter, and things like that. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Newcastle captain, Jamaal Lascelles, regarding the speculation surrounding his future.

But what would Lascelles bring to Arsenal back line? Leadership and stability, two traits that Arsenal’s centre back duo of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi ultimately lacked throughout the 2017/18 Premier League season and two qualities that the Gunners desperately need to be reincorporated into their defence.

It remains to be seen whether or not the new Arsenal boss will break the bank to bring the talented centre back to North London. However, there are not many other defenders in Europe who could come in and do the job as well as the 24-year-old Newcastle captain would.

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Six ins and outs Arsenal could complete this week

The Gunners continue to be extremely active in the transfer market.

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Arsenal
Photo: Getty Images

Unai Emery’s rejuvenation at Arsenal is well underway ahead of the 2018-19 season and the next week could be a busy time in north London.

The Gunners have already signed five new players, totalling around £71.1 million, according to TransferMarkt, and may now shift attention towards offloading some within the squad who are deemed to be surplus to requirements.

However, plenty of rumours still float around to suggest that Emery’s spending spree is far from over and Arsenal fans may be set to welcome further arrivals at the Emirates Stadium, with rumours suggesting that more midfield additions are targeted.

With suggestions that deals could be agreed imminently, we have rounded up the latest reports to identify a total of six deals the Gunners could agree this week.

Rodrigo Bentancur: Juventus

Arsenal have already signed one Uruguay ace this summer in the form of Lucas Torreira but are now reported to be eyeing a deal for Juventus’ Rodrigo Bentancur following his performances at the World Cup, Gazzetta Dello Sport state.

The 21-year-old is rated as one of the finest young players within the ranks of Massimiliano Allegri’s Serie A winning side but has struggled for regular playing time due to the wealth of competition that Juventus have at their disposal.

While Arsenal also have a strong midfield, which includes the likes of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey, the departures of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere have left the Gunners lacking depth, which should provide Bentancur with enough playing opportunities.

(Photo by Odd Andersen/Getty Images)

David Ospina to Boca Juniors

Signed following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, David Ospina has never done enough to secure a spot as Arsenal’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper and the signing of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen leaves the writing on the wall for the Colombia international.

The Mirror state Arsenal will accept a fee of just £6m for the experienced goalkeeper and South American giants Boca Juniors are interested, although his agent admitted to El Crack Deportivo that a deal would be difficult to secure.

“The possibility of Boca is something we have already spoken about, but right now it is not economically possible for a club like Boca to pay that much for a goalkeeper.”

– Lucas Jaramillo, Ospina’s agent, on a potential transfer.

Andre Gomes: Barcelona

Andre Gomes has had a difficult few years at Barcelona since signing from Valencia after Portugal’s European Championship win in 2016 and an exit for the 24-year-old looks likely to take place before the start of the new LaLiga season.

Spanish outlet Sport state an exit for Gomes is close after he was left out of Barcelona’s pre-season squad for the tour in the United States, although they name Juventus as potential rivals in the market for the Gunners.

New surroundings could be what Gomes needs to get his career back-on-track, although fans will be concerned about his form in recent years and whether he would be good enough to challenge the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira for first-team action.

Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad

One of Arsenal’s finest performers last season, Spain international Nacho Monreal has exceeded expectations in recent years by remaining as one of the most crucial players within the squad – but his services are being eyed this summer.

El Gol Digital state Monreal is the number one priority for Real Sociedad as they look to bolster their defensive line following the sale of Alvaro Odriozola to Real Madrid, although there is no indication that Arsenal are open to a sale.

However, Monreal’s contract at Arsenal is due to expire at the end of the season and that may lead the Gunners to be tempted to approve a deal.

(Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Max Meyer: Free agent

22-year-old Germany international Max Meyer is a free agent after his contract at Schalke came to a close and The Sunday Express, in their printed edition (15/07), suggest that a fight for the midfielder’s services will emerge from within the Premier League.

Arsenal and Liverpool are said to be preparing to go head-to-head to land the highly-rated young attacking midfielder, although Bild stated earlier this month that his demands of £4m-a-year had led both English sides to end their interest.

With Arsenal having already lost Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, the Gunners would benefit from a bargain like Meyer in the market – especially with Aaron Ramsey’s future still uncertain.

Joel Campbell to Lazio

After six loan spells in seven years at Arsenal, it is easy to forget that Costa Rica international Joel Campbell is still on the books at the Emirates Stadium but a permanent departure for the 26-year-old could be right around the corner.

Serie A giants Lazio, fresh from losing the services of Felipe Anderson to West Ham, are said to be eyeing a move for the versatile forward to bolster their ranks ahead of the new campaign, reports from Bola VIP say.

While Arsenal lack depth in the wide areas, Unai Emery is unlikely to call upon the services of Campbell this season and a sale makes sense for all parties.

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Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.

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Arsenal
Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

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