– We trust him very much


Global Courant

TOKYO (VG) Erling Braut Haaland (23) has seriously put Norway on the football map. Now the stage may be set for a new Norwegian, who has already captivated Norwegian TV viewers at the age of 11.

NORWEGIAN PARTY: Erling Braut Haaland may be joined by a compatriot (far left) in the first team this season.

1 in 3Photo: Shuji Kajiyama/AP/NTB

It begins to be a few years ago that Oscar Bobb played with players two years older during the Norway Cup. Nine years later, the scene is completely different when Ekebergsletta has been replaced by the world’s largest city.

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This summer, the now 20-year-old great talent will be part of Manchester City’s pre-season in Japan and South Korea. And he’s certainly not just there to watch and learn.

– Oscar had an incredible season for the second team last year. He played absolutely incredible. He can also play in three or four positions. We trust him very much, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola replied to questions from VG during Sunday’s Tokyo press conference.

Then the Norwegian had just played the entire second half in the 5-3 win over Yokohama Marinos, where Erling Braut Haaland also came on at half-time and scored two goals.

With silky-smooth technique, nimble feet and creative solutions, the 20-year-old impressed 70,000 spectators, despite being critical of his own performance.

– It’s the best level in the world. But everyone helps you a lot, it’s an absolutely incredible support system. You get everything in order, but at the same time it’s very demanding to perform at your best every day and do everything well on and off the field, says Bobb about life as an A-team player.

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From the stands, The Athletic journalist Sam Lee was among those who marveled at Oscar Bobb, comparing him to Algerian star Riyad Mahrez.

“Only seen, he is perfect for what Guardiola wants from his wingers,” the Manchester City expert emphasizes.

Now the Manchester City manager hints that Bobb, who also showed himself at the U21 European Championship for Norway this summer, may have more opportunities when the time comes.

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He gives a fatherly smile when VG asks how much you can expect to see the 20-year-old more often this season.

The City manager praises the Norwegian, listing him in the same category as Phil Foden (23), Cole Palmer (21), Rico Lewis (18) and James McAtee (20).

– He is one of the most promising players and a great talent, says Guardiola about Bobb.

Phil Foden is already an established first-team player, while both Palmer and Lewis tried themselves out last season.

James McAtee impressed last season with nine goals in 37 games on loan at Sheffield United, who were promoted to the Premier League.

In that season, Oscar Bobb was named the academy player of the year for the second season in a row.

– I have been at the academy for 3-4 years now. A lot of the same principles apply throughout the club, so I recognize a lot of them, but there’s also a lot of news. When you play for Guardiola, the best in the world, of course there are a lot of nuances and a lot of little things, says Bobb.

– In which areas have you made the greatest progress? asks VG.

– The mental one maybe. I think the technical and things like that don’t improve much in adulthood, but the mental and tactical ones of course.

– What are examples that the mental is the hardest? asks TV 2.

– It’s that you can never relax, and that’s a good thing. That’s how it should be in professional life. But when you step to that level here, you may never relax.

As an 11-year-old, Bobb attracted national attention when he destroyed Lyn in the Norwegian Cup. After he first received massive attention in the summer of 2014, he became a fixed value in TV 2 broadcasts in the years that followed.

– He has exceptional technique and jerk. There’s a bit of Messi in the style of play, said then-TV 2 commentator Per-Jarle Heggelund after Bobb first made his mark against opponents two years his senior in July 2014.

At the age of 12, he moved to Portugal with his mother, where the huge talent trained with the great club Porto, who had spotted him during the Algarve Cup in March 2013. He was only nine years old at the time.

Porto paid for several flights for the youngster to train with them for years to come, but were never allowed to sign the Norwegian talent. FIFA believed it was against the rules of international football, due to Bobb’s young age. The case ultimately had to be decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

EARLY CROOKES: Oscar Bobb (14) at the Statoil Talent Camp in Porsgrunn.

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He made a quick trip to Vålerenga as a 15-year-old, but Manchester City got to the ball early and made sure he was theirs once he turned 16 and signed a junior contract.

Now the next step seems to be a permanent part of the first team of Manchester City.

– We’ll have to look for Japan and South Korea. I haven’t thought much about it, I mainly focus on everyday life, says Bobb.

The 20-year-old appears calm, humble and confident in the press meeting. Perhaps a little schooled and media-trained, despite his young age, he is cautious about predicting how much A-team football he can expect next season.

– I think play time is important so you need to sit down with those who can help and those who are concerned to figure out what’s best.

Bobb was already praised by Manchester City star Rodri last year:

– We trust him very much

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