Alexander Sørloth 20 Striker FC Groningen Norway
Sometimes damned by comparison with some of Norway’s more storied players, Trondheim-born striker Alexander Sørloth joined Rosenborg’s youth system at an early age and scored just twelve minutes into his professional debut, a UEFA Europa League qualifier against Crusaders in 2013.
He’s only played a few games for Rosenborg’s first team since. He spent a few years in their second team, but it was a loan spell at Bodø/Glimt that really made his name. There, he started 19 Tippeligaen games in 2015 and scored 13 goals, including a hat-trick on the final day and four against Start in August that year. Despite not cracking the Rosenborg side, he ended his Norwegian league career with those 13 goals in just 32 matches.
2016 has been…
A step up that’s presented some challenges. Sørloth signed for the Eredivisie outfit FC Groningen in January but found his 2015/16 half-season there beset by a series of setbacks. Early on in his time in the Netherlands he suffered a severe allergic reaction to nuts in a pasta sauce, and suffered a broken metacarpal in what we can confirm was an unrelated incident. Niggling injuries have been a part of this season too, and the impact on his ability to make a mark has been clear.
Sørloth started just six Eredivisie games in the second half of last season and came on as a substitute in seven more, scoring only twice. This season he’s yet to get off the mark in the league, where goals from Tom van Weert and others are limiting his chances. His fabulous debut goal in January was the perfect start, but 2016 has been far from the perfect year.
It’s a shame, too, because Sørloth and chances go hand in hand. He’s a big boy with crafty movement and a deftness of touch, and he’s very adept at playing on the shoulder and getting in behind defences. He’s strong and composed and can score from outside the box, but it’s inside where he really comes alive. His finishing is more instinctive than prolific, but he’s a threat in the air too.
The truth is we don’t yet know the truth. There’s no denying that the Eredivisie is a different kettle of fish to Norwegian football, but it’s also obvious that some natural goalscorers are just naturals, and they can do it anywhere. As far as Sørloth’s prognosis is concerned, the sample size is too small.
Sørloth’s statistics this year and arguably his performances in the same period haven’t matched up to expectations. Nevertheless, anyone writing him off as early as this is gambling on his fearsome potential not being reached. Although establishing regular football at Groningen will doubtless be on his mind, a loan move away might not be the worst thing for him. It’s certainly worked before.
At international level, Sørloth’s progress is more straightforward. He’s played at all youth levels for Norway, and joined the senior side on the field for the first time this year. He hasn’t yet started, and he’s still involved fairly regularly with the Under-21s, but a goal against Iceland in June signifies a bright future.
D A difficult year that didn’t reflect his ability
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