Edvard Tagseth: The next Norwegian star to represent Liverpool?

Norway has long had links to Liverpool, and not just in a footballing sense. The Beatles were among the most popular bands in the country during their time; scouse, the stew-like dish that led to the people of Liverpool being known as Scousers, was brought across to Merseyside by Norwegian sailors, and after the EU referendum, Norway was held up as the template to replicate as a successful economy operating outside of the trade bloc.  

After the Republic of Ireland, Norwegians represent the biggest group of foreign fans to come over to England for Premier League games and in January this year, one Norwegian Liverpool fan went viral when he convinced his girlfriend to name their new-born child ‘YNWA’.

17-year-old midfielder Edvard Tagseth is perhaps the latest piece in the close relationship between the two countries.

Born in Levanger, a town in the west of Norway with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants and is typically picturesque in a country of frequent natural beauty, he is now one of Liverpool's stand-out under-18 players.

As a young child, Tagseth’s dad Tore made the family household’s garage into an indoor football zone complete with artificial grass as he honed his skills, with the hope that one day his son would go on to play at this level.

He first caught the eye of the Red's scouts when at the age of ten he attended one of the club’s popular overseas soccer schools during the summer holidays.

In 2011, four years later, he was plucked from Neset FK and taken to Liverpool's Kirkby Academy, with the club having tracked him extensively in the time in between.

Everton were also interested in signing him at the same time, but Liverpool were the ones who the Norwegian under-17 international selected at the time.

High praise 

Steven Gerrard, a player Tagseth admired during his time growing up as a Liverpool fan in Scandinavia and who now coaches him as boss of the under-18s, is a huge fan.

“His all-around game is really good,” he said.

“The type of game he has, as an ex-player myself you would love to have him in your team. He is very honest, does both sides of the game really well.

Gerrard continued: “We are trying to add numbers to his game.

"If Eddie can add goals and assists to his game then it’s going to round him off to be a top player.”

High praise from one of Liverpool's best ever players, and someone that only a couple of years ago, Tagseth was plastering posters of on his bedroom wall.

Now he gets to train under Gerrard’s close supervision.

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Early signs are good

Tagseth started his Liverpool career in the perfect manner by scoring on his debut against Blackburn and showed early promise.

After 19 games for the under-18s this season, though, his run stalled to a halt after he picked up a leg injury that is expected to keep him out for the remainder of the campaign, with his teammates sitting third in the league with a game in hand over Everton in second.

Tagseth is averaging a goal or assist in just over every three games for Liverpool, which will have to improve in time, but has been compared to James Milner in the past, with one well-placed observer suggesting that it is as a model professional rather than directly in terms of playing style that those comparisons can be drawn.

“He’s got everything he needs [to become a Liverpool player]. He works quite hard, he’s fast with the ball,” he tells me with enthusiasm. 

The next step in Tagseth’s development will be to make the jump into Neil Critchley’s under-23s team, something he might well have done towards the back end of this season if he had been fit, given Ovie Ejaria moved out on loan to Sunderland and Cameron Brannagan was sold to Oxford United, before perhaps earning a loan move.

There is intense competition for places at the first team level, but the Norwegian has time on his side.

The hope is that he can follow Martin Ødegaard, the much sought-after starlet from Strømsgodset, the Drammen-based side in southern Norway, who joined Real Madrid in 2015 after being head-hunted by every top club in Europe and become a real household name.

“It was a lot harder for him [to be spotted] than Ødegaard, because of the small club he played for,” the same regular observer states.

It is a testament to the hard work and determination that the young midfielder has shown thus far throughout his short career that he has got this far, and whilst there is still some distance to go, he is in a good place.

Under the guidance of Liverpool's academy staff, there is no reason why he cannot become a member of the first team squad in the long-run. 

Being Norwegian, a country where some places in the far north are in darkness for three months a year with the sun not rising at all from November to January, few things in the country can be described as being bright.

Tagseth's future, though, is a clear exception. The youngster has everything it requires to become the first Norwegian since John Arne Riise to wear the red shirt of Liverpool on a regular basis.