Iver Fossum 20 Midfielder Hannover 96 Norway
He’s not that Norwegian wonderkid, but Iver Fossum was an eye-catching talent in his time with Tippeligaen side Strømsgodset. He got his break there in 2013, making his debut at a frighteningly young age. He started every Tippeligaen match in 2015 as Strømsgodset finished second to Rosenborg, who’ve previously taken an interest in him.
With eleven goals and nine assists to his name in 2015, not to mention a fearsome reputation as a prospect for the future, he was snapped up last December by Hannover 96, by then a cert for relegation from Germany’s top flight. He was a popular choice as the best player in Norway last year. Expectations were high.
2016 has been…
A reality check. Fossum took a while to establish himself in Hannover’s atrocious relegation team, starting just eight matches. Yet his presence in the starting eleven for two of their three 2016 wins in the 1.Bundesliga was a positive hint. Dropping down a level should have given Fossum the opportunity to perform beyond his years against modest opposition. Instead, he’s in and out of a second division team. Reports of tentative interest from Real Madrid must feel like ancient history.
Fossum has, however, become a more regular starter, playing from the kick-off in more than half of the 2.Bundesliga games Hannover have played so far this season. He’s less prolific in terms of scoring and creating than he was in Norway, but he is off the mark in both regards at least.
Internationally, it’s a more encouraging story. Very much a product of the Norwegian system, Fossum played for his country at all youth levels before making his debut for the senior team this May, aged 19. He now has three caps as well as remaining a big part of the Under-21 set-up.
Despite Hannover’s travails and Fossum’s inability to gain a more solid foothold, his long-term outlook remains positive. He is a player with an awful lot going for him, and his circumstances at twenty years of age won’t define him.
He does his best work right in the middle of the pitch. He’s got the perfect central midfield mentality, allowing him to be combative off the ball and technical on it. He’s committed enough to put his head where it hurts, but he also has a neat passing game that’s enabled as much by his willingness to always be on the move, finding space.
Although his touch can be a little looser than he’d like, he’s most effective when Hannover play through the midfield. There, his ability to keep possession by playing simple is at its most useful. Although he can deliver a mean set piece, Fossum is not spectacular. He’s a useful midfield all-rounder with plenty of upside.
Fossum’s finest trait, though, is his instinctive urge to take as much responsibility as he can. He likes to be involved, and he’ll go where he needs to be for that to happen. He never seems to be more than thirty yards from the ball but that’s not a result of indiscipline; he’ll keep his position, but make himself available. That level of maturity in his match awareness suggests 2016 won’t be looked back upon as the year Fossum fell.
Having dropped into the second division with Hannover, Fossum’s 2017 needs to be approached with smartness and patience. His first test is whether he can force his way into his team’s midfield in those games he’s not yet starting. Like his team-mates, Fossum’s ultimate goal next year is to secure promotion at the first attempt.
After that, who knows? In spite of his impressive qualities and Hannover’s relegation, Fossum’s immediate future might be best served by taking stock and progressing steadily. Time is still on his side and he’s easily good enough to play at a higher level.
D An international now, but a tough year with Hannover
All images used have been kindly provided by the National Audubon Society in The United States under a Creative Commons License. The Society’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. You can donate to their work, here.