Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan has been quick to back his new manager with January signings as the Bluebirds’ winter restructuring programme continues at pace. Last Friday, Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer returned to his native country for the third time this month to sign Norway international Jo Inge Berget from Mølde for an undisclosed fee:
The move reunites Berget with compatriots Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Mats Møller Dæhli, as Solskjaer brings the best talents from his former club to the Premier League. In an interview with the Cardiff official website, the new manager discussed the 23-year-old’s top-flight prospects:
“He’s a forward and full Norwegian International and arrives on a very good deal for us. He knows the way I want to play, he’s a secondary frontman and is a very strong and intelligent footballer. He’ll do well for us.”
Berget has played virtually all of his competitive club football in the Norwegian top flight. After short spells at Lyn and Strømsgodset (on loan from Italian side, Udinese) Berget signed for Mølde, where he formed a strong relationship with manager Solskjaer, becoming an integral part of the side which went on to become domestic champions on two occasions (2011 and 2012). The pair also lifted the Norwegian Football Cup with Mølde in 2013 before making the move to the Welsh Capital.
Berget scored 23 goals in 82 games in all competitions (17 in 63 in the league) during his successful spell at Mølde – including three strikes in ten appearances in Europe – taking his club record to 36 in 146 over a five-year professional career. He’s also notched six times in 21 appearances for the Norwegian Under-21 side and now boasts four full international caps, having made his debut in 2012.
Cardiff’s starting XI is in a transitional period, with a new manager and a new direction making investments in certain players something of a gamble. That said, Fraizer Campbell, priced at 5.2 in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game, has been their first-choice striker for much of the season and, with two goals and an assist in his last four games (in addition to strikes in both FA Cup games under Solskjaer), looks set to keep his start.
Meanwhile, summer signing Andreas Cornelius (5.3 in FPL) is also pushing for game time, starting the weekend FA Cup win at Bolton. Then there is the likely arrival of Kenwyne Jones from Stoke City, which will only serve to increase competition for the lone striker role in Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
With Jones also available as a budget option (just 4.6 in FPL), Berget – expected to come in at 5.0 in FPL – looks set to struggle for our immediate Fantasy attention. Additionally, the chances of regular game time in the short-term look slim after his manager hinted that the new Norwegian could be integrated slowly:
“They are long-term value for money… Of course, they haven’t played in the Premier League but they are all full internationals and I know them because I have had them before. They are going to succeed in England. These three are not ones we expect to come in straight away and take the Premier League by storm straight away but they have cost more or less nothing so they are for the future.”
Certainly, that has been the case with his new midfielders. Eikrem has featured sparingly, with 26 and 13 minutes off the bench in Cardiff’s last two league matches and a start in the 1-0 cup win over Bolton at the weekend, while Dælhi made his debut in the final ten minutes of the Reebok triumph.
Before we write off Berget’s chances of game time completely, though, it’s intriguing to hear the thoughts of Norwegian journalist Oyvind Herrebroden on his style of play:
“He can play in every offensive position, although his best might be playing off the striker as a number 10. I guess Solskjaer also will try to play him up front, while he has also played right and left wing at Molde. He is an intelligent player, great touch, right-footed, good vision and has a physical presence. Maybe he is not be a typical goalscorer and is more a creator. He can score, though, and there is no doubt of his potential, but I guess some will say that he hasn’t totally fulfilled it yet.”
Judging by the sounds of it, it seems Berget’s versatility should prove beneficial to his game time. He’s more likely to offer an option in “the hole” behind a solitary striker or even on the flank but with more arrivals expected at the Cardiff City stadium before the window slams shut on Friday, it’s safe to say Fantasy managers will afford him time to settle before considering any possible acquisition.