After a delay of two months, the 2020 Eliteserien season is ready to kick off on Tuesday evening. Last year Molde won their first title since 2014, ending Rosenborg’s four-year grip on the trophy. 2019 was full of surprise packages, not least expected relegation candidates Bodø/Glimt finishing second, but there have been plenty of major transfers since then. Here’s how last season’s top half look ahead of the start of the new campaign, starting with the champions.
The champions elected to strengthen an already stacked midfield by signing Ola Brynhildsen (7.0m) from Stabæk. Magnus Wolff Eikrem is the most expensive player in the game at 12.5m after a stellar season, although the majority of his 11 goals and nine assists came in the first half of the campaign. Eirik Ulland Andersen (9.0m) could feature more this season after being sidelined by injury for the majority of last term. Eirik Hestad will need another good season if he’s to justify a 9.0m price tag. And that’s all without mentioning the deeper-lying midfielders Etzaz Hussain (7.0m), Fredrik Aursnes (6.5m) or Martin Ellingsen (5.0m), wingers Erling Knudtzon (7.0m) and Mathis Bolly (8.0m) or youngster Tobias Christensen (7.5m).
Upfront, Leke James looks like the prime pick to start the season as Ohi struggles for fitness. They come in at 12.0m and 11.0m respectively and despite the inevitable rotation that occurred last season, they finished second and third in the golden boot race.
The defence currently looks a little thin, however. Reliable right back Kristoffer Haraldseid (6.0m) could miss the whole season with an ACL injury. Stian Gregersen (5.0m) spent last season on loan at Swedish side Elfsborg but looks likely to step in alongside Martin Bjørnbak (5.5m) after departures at centre back.
It would be a big surprise if last season’s silver medallists could repeat that feat, not least due to the departures of wingers Håkon Evjen and Amor Layouni. They’re also without defender Erlend Dahl Reitan (6.0m) who has returned to Rosenborg, while Nikita Khaykin (5.0m) will take over the goalkeeping mantle. Attack-minded left-back Fredrik Andre Bjørkan is unsurprisingly more costly at 6.0m this season.
Philip Zinckernagel (8.0m) and Jens Petter Hauge (7.5m) will be crucial to retaining last season’s attacking verve, with the latter being linked with a move to Belgium. Newly signed Ola Solbakken (7.5m) is another option out wide.
19-year-old striker Victor Boniface (8.0m) spent most of last season sidelined and now has competition from Kasper Junker (8.0m) who scored six goals to propel Stabæk up the table.
Despite a dreadful start to last season Eirik Horneland remains in charge, having salvaged a third place finish. RBK couldn’t match the stylish attack of last season’s top two, but Kristoffer Zachariassen (8.5m) could change that, as the midfielder arrives off the back of 42 bonus points in the last three seasons for Sarpsborg.
The marauding Birger Meling (7.0m) is set to join Nîmes, so the left-back position is up in the air. Midfielder Anders Trondsen (5.5m) has played there before but can’t offer the same pace and energy. Could Dahl Reitan or Vegar Eggen Hedenstad (6.5m) move to the opposite flank?
As ever, Pål Andre Helland represents a gamble at 11.0m; injury-prone, but with a high ceiling. Samuel Adegbenro (10.0m) is unplayable on his day but has also had his share of injury problems in his time at Rosenborg. Dino Islamovic (10.5m) will lead the line having joined from Östersunds, but Erik Botheim (7.0m) has talent, bagging a hat-trick against Tromsø last season.
The archetypal top half team in recent years spent the majority of last season amongst the podium places, only to fall to fourth on the final day. The back-line picks itself at this point, with fullbacks Espen Ruud (6.5m) and Birk Risa (6.0m) probably the most tempting fantasy selections.
Golden boot winner Torgeir Børven (11.0m) will be out to prove last season wasn’t a fluke, although he may end up plying his trade elsewhere as his contract runs down. Should he stay, he’ll be supported by Elba Rashani (8.0m) and new signing Kachi Ugwuadu (7.0m).
There’s a new manager in Skien for the first time since 2007 as Dag-Eilev Fagermo has left for Vålerenga, with assistant Jan Frode Nornes taking the reins.
The side from Stavanger rebounded from 2017’s relegation and impressed in their first season back in the top flight and won the domestic cup. In goal, Iven Austbø (5.5m) could face competition from the returning Arild Østbø (5.0m). Adrian Nilsen Pereira put in some impressive performances in the second half of last season and is the most expensive defensive option here at 6.0m.
The departed Kristian Thorstvedt and Zlatko Tripic have been replaced by familiar faces too, as Yann-Erick de Lanlay (7.5m) and Veton Berisha (9.0m) begin their second spells at the club. The cheaper Ylldren Ibrahimaj (7.0m) looks like a safer pick though, having provided 10 assists last season. The versatile Fredrik Torsteinbø (6.0m) could also be worth consideration.
Already a popular pick last season due to his budget price tag, opponents couldn’t handle centre back Christophe Psyche’s set-piece presence as he unexpectedly bagged seven goals. Now 5.5m, though perhaps less of an assured starter, can he repeat his goalscoring exploits?
Amahl Pellegrino (9.0m) was clinical in front of goal after joining from Strømsgodset last summer and Flamur Kastrati (8.0m) is worth consideration up front if he stays fit. Can KBK secure another top-half finish without bonus point magnet Amidou Diop in midfield?
If Alexander Stølås (7.5m) can regain his pre-injury form, the set-piece wizard will justify his status as the most expensive defender in the game.
Niklas Sandberg (7.5m) showcased his quality with some fantastic strikes among his five goals last season. With Martin Samuelsen now at Hull City, Kristoffer Velde (6.5m) or even Kevin Martin Krygård (5.5m) could step up to provide goals from out wide.
Up front Ibrahima Wadji (8.0m) still has a month to serve of his doping ban but has featured in a couple of friendly matches. Benjamin Källman (7.0m) scored a few as a squad player in his spell at Viking and Alexander Ammitzbøll (6.5m) rounds off the striking options.
Jan Jönsson’s arrival midway through 2019 heralded a spell of good form and clean sheets aplenty as Stabæk comfortably avoided relegation after a poor start. An exceptional season has seen Marcus Sandberg transition from budget keeper to premium option at 6.0m. Of the keepers still in the game, Sandberg made by far the most saves last season (129). Andreas Hanche-Olsen (5.5m) captained the second-best defensive unit in the league.
Despite Brynhildsen’s departure, there are a host of reasonably priced options in the midfield in Emil Bohinen, Luc Kassi (both 6.0m) and Hugo Vetlesen (5.5m). Bohinen is the latest from Norway’s talent factory to be linked with a move abroad. Romain Gall (7.0m) joins on loan from Swedish giants Malmö, costing slightly more than his midfield teammates, but in 2018 he bagged 13 Allsvenskan goals.
Fitim Azemi (8.0m) finally got a loan move and was one of Tromsø’s better players as they went down last season, while Kosuke Kinoshita (6.0m) will provide more of an aerial presence up front.