Bolton, Celtic, Liverpool, Newcastle track Norse stars

The Norwegian transfer window opens on August 1st and five players hope to make a move to the UK from the Tippeligaen.  Jeff Livingstone reports.

Mame Biram Diouf.  A name that jumps at you?  Maybe.  He's the young lad that came on as a sub for Wayne Rooney in Manchester United's 3-0 win over Burnley in January, promptly scoring.  For serious Man U followers, Diouf is a player that they were already aware of having arrived at Old Trafford from Norwegian side Molde in 2009 after a recommendation to Sir Alex Ferguson by Ole Gunnar Solskjær.  Solskjær also made the move from Molde to England back in 1996, and United fans will hope that Senegalese striker Diouf can make the same impression as the baby faced assassin.

With a stagnant transfer market still coming to terms with the aftershock of a global recession; is Diouf destined to be the only player to make the transition from Norway to the UK?  Not if Bolton, Celtic, Liverpool, Newcastle or Aston Villa have anything to do with it.

All of these sides have been credited with an interest in the latest batch of top talent from Tippeligaen - Norway's Premier League - and many pundits in Scandinavia fully expect interest to firm up in five particular individuals on August 1st.

First up is striker Marcus Pedersen, the player most frequently linked with a move to the UK.  Aged 20, Pedersen is a powerful forward that dominates penalty boxes.  Having been fast tracked through the national ranks, the player, dubbed the Norwegian Rooney, is expected to make his full debut at international level later this year.  Despite the hype, Pedersen's management have maintained a sensible approach to the players development and suggested it may be too early for a move abroad.  However, his club, Stromsgodset are not a huge draw in Norse football and any bid may be difficult to turn down.  A more sensible option may be for the player to be signed and loaned back to Stromsgodset, who have done such a good job with him so far.  Liverpool have been heavily linked in recent days.

Anthony Annan is a different kettle of fish though.  The Ghanaian international has already played for his country at a world cup and, just shy of 24, it's unlikely he will be adding to his three years in Norway.  With direct comparisons to Michael Essien not looking unfounded, Newcastle has been mentioned as a possible destination for the midfielder, but it's more likely that Annan will move to a Champions League side in France or Italy.  The £5m fee mentioned in the UK press for the player looks conservative to say the least.

Attacker Mohammed Fellah and Midfielder Harmeet Singh have been a revelation at Valeranga over the last 18 months.  Fellah, aged 21, of Moroccan descent, has already saw large sections of the Norwegian media getting particularly excited and it's not difficult to see why.  Not the tallest fellah (see what I did there?) you'll ever see, young Mohammed has netted only six times in fifty appearances for his club, but his record at junior international level shows what a poacher and creator this player is.  John Carew is said to have recommended the player to Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill.  That's what IBWM has heard anyway.

Harmeet Singh (pictured) is another player making huge strides at Valeranga and his abilities belie the fact that Singh is still only 19.  A powerful midfielder with a mature playing style, Singh looks very much a premier League star of the future.

Having just turned 23 and with links to Bolton, Celtic and Newcastle stretching back nearly five years, this summer is beginning to look like now or never for Rosenborg's Per Ciljan Skjelbred.  As the pin-up boy of Norwegian football, this classy midfielder has been scouted more times than any other player in Tippeligaen over recent seasons.  Whether UK clubs have just decided he is not quite what they are after, or whether Rosenborg have just asked too much, many observers in Norway are surprised the blonde bombshell has not yet moved on.  2010 could be time for a change though.