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PROSPECT | Jens Petter Hauge

With the Bundesliga five games in after the transfer window summarily slammed shut until January, Bundesliga clubs have had some time to show off just what their new signings are capable of. Despite current economic conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Bundesliga clubs remained active in the transfer market, or at least as active as their financial situations would allow.

One of the league’s more active club’s was Eintracht Frankfurt, who were on the lookout for players to replace the productivity of one André Silva, who made the move to RB Leipzig for a fee closing in on €23 million, per Transfermarkt. The Portuguese international netted a total of 28 goals in the Bundesliga alone for Die Adler, making him by far the most prolific feature of their attacking front line.

It’s almost impossible for the average team to replace the sort of output that Silva provided for Frankfurt in one transfer window, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t going to give it a solid shot. In Silva’s place, Frankfurt made a few very attack-oriented acquisitions that deserve a deeper dive. The most interesting of these is Jens Petter Hauge.

While Hauge isn’t by any means a direct replacement for Silva, (that role has seemingly gone to Rafael Borré), he is a young, energetic and talented addition to the Frankfurt front line that has already provided two goals to the Frankfurt cause in the five games he has played. Despite Frankfurt’s overall lackluster start, he has been a bright spot for his side, one that looks set to excite the Bundesliga for the season to come.

Early Career and the story so far:

Before we take a look at Hauge’s overall attributes, we should take a look at his footballing journey up until this point to better understand just how he ended up on loan in Frankfurt in the first place. Born in Bodø, Norway, Hauge started his career with local side Bodø/Glimt. His first season with the first team in 2016 saw him make 20 appearances and score one goal.

The following season would be more of a breakthrough period for Hauge by scoring twice and assisting his teammates 13 times, a performance that helped his side win promotion to Norway’s top flight, the Eliteserien. His performances continued to fluctuate for his side, which resulted in a loan spell away from the club. Upon his return however, he reasserted himself and once again became an integral part of the Bodø/Glimt setup. The 2020/21 season would be a major turning point for Hauge. In the league, he started off strongly with six goals and six assists after 10 games. The club were also in the Europa League at the time, and Hauge’s performances abroad caught the eye of AC Milan, who snapped up the young Norwegian international on a five-year contract in October of that year.

Hauge’s time at Milan over the course of the 2020/21 season would see him take the pitch a total of 18 times in Serie A, once in the cup, and five times in the Europa League. He managed to score five goals and provide one assist across all competitions for Milan, with his most prolific competition being the Europa League. At 21 years old and with a record that already showed that he has had dips in form in the past, it wasn’t completely surprising to see Hauge struggle in his first season. The stats also must take into account that Hauge only amassed three starts across those 18 appearances in Serie A, playing a total of 532 minutes.

The move to Milan has now come down to Hauge looking to re-establish a run of form in the Bundesliga with Frankfurt on loan with an obligation to buy, and that’s not a bad shout at all in my opinion – the league is rife with clubs, including Frankfurt, that love to develop youth talent into stars, so Hauge should be in good hands at least in terms of getting playing time in one of the top leagues in Europe.

Playstyle and attributes:

Hauge’s playstyle is an exciting blend between creativity and goalscoring prowess. The Norwegian international predominantly likes to play on the left wing, but he is certainly capable of playing on the right as well. This versatility is important, particularly to a team like Frankfurt who may not have the money to splash cash on an immense amount of depth. Currently, Frankfurt only have Fabio Blanco as a natural right winger in their squad, and he is currently plying his trade with Frankfurt’s youth setup. Frankfurt have also deployed him as a second striker alongside Sam Lammers in their 1-1 Europa League clash with Fenerbahçe. The versatility Hauge displays will help him get more minutes in Oliver Glasner’s Die Adler side.

Aside from versatility, Hauge displays a high level of confidence for a player so young, which allows him to pull off some amazing moves. He is not scared to dribble past players, let alone take a shot on goal. He is also able to deliver a solid cross into the box from either wing, which gives him the ability to pop up all over the pitch and cause havoc amongst opposition defenders.

In taking a look at his performances so far in the Bundesliga, his goal against Borussia Dortmund in the first game of the season ensured that Hauge got off the mark on his debut. While it was a simple tap in from a corner routine Hauge still had to be in the right place at the right time to get his first Bundesliga strike, and it emphasised that the young Norwegian winger has a good sense of positioning that Frankfurt will likely benefit from in the season to come, even if it was too little too late against Dortmund.

Hauge’s goal against Arminia Bielefeld on MD3 was also a simple strike from a more central position. Hauge found himself on the receiving end of delicately poised cut back and slotted past Bielefeld’s Stefan Ortega.  Positional awareness is often a sign of great maturity in players so young, and his ability to take the shot one time is a sample of what Frankfurt fans can expect from the player.

Despite all this upside to Hauge’s game, there is one weakness that is often mentioned by those who’ve watched the player more closely over the years, and that is his lack of awareness in decision making. There are moments where Hauge will sometimes take the harder route in terms of deciding whether to pass or take a shot, which can prove wasteful at times. There is of course ample time for the youngster to rectify this, and we can expect that with time he will be less hasty in terms of his decision making in this respect.

With the season still in the very early stages, and Frankfurt still struggling to register a win in the league, this may also have an effect on Hauge himself which may indicate that we may have a slower start to the Norwegian’s career in the Bundesliga, but the situation isn’t ideal for a new player to excel right away; with the whole squad struggling it is safe to assume that they are still working to implement Glasner’s tactics.

Glasner’s Wolfsburg was a joy to watch last season, and the more minutes Hauge receives will allow him to gel with his teammates and get accustomed to the league, which is far more fast paced than either Serie A or the previous leagues Hauge has played in. Frankfurt truly has a gem of a player on their hands.

By Brian Szlenk.

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