Scouted: Jens Petter Hauge
Making his Scouted Football debut, Chris Summersell dives deep into the exremely-talented new Norwegian generation to profile 20-year-old FK Bodø/Glimt attacker, Jens Petter Hauge.
There is something special happening in Norway at the moment. With the emergence of superstar talents Erling Braut Haaland and Martin Ødegaard, as well as high-level prospects such as Sander Berge and Kristoffer Ajer impressing in their respective leagues,it begs the simple question: does the well of Norwegian talent run any deeper?
The short answer is yes; the supporting cast for the spine of players is encouragingly deep. A talent from that group who you may hear more about in the near future is 20-year-old attacker, Jens Petter Hauge. The young wide forward has stood out for FK Bodø/Glimt, where his contributions helped his team finish second in last year's Eliteserien season.
This analytical profile will use data and visual analysis to put him under the microscope, culminating in an assessment of where his potental could take him as he develops.
The first port of call is to examine the data set from the 2019 Eliteserien season. In this regard, Hauge shows up very favourably compared not only to his age bracket peers, but the entire top-flight of Norwegian football.
Last season, Hauge played 1198 minutes – initially comprising of substitute cameos before he forced his way into the side as a starter – and weighed in with 7 goals and an assist, helping Bodø/Glimt secure second place behind the champions, FK Molde.
The underlying numbers, courtesy of Wyscout, suggest that this was no fluke. With an xG total of 6.65 at 0.5 xG per 90 minutes coming from a high shot volume of 3.2 per 90, the numbers suggest that Hauge is a genuine goalscoring talent in the making. From a wider starting position, his data set starts to look even more impressive.
Hauge is a prolific dribbler, with 6.5 per 90, a number inflated by Wyscout definitions, and crucially he weighs in with a very high 5.2 touches in the opposition box per 90. Video analysis will determine whether his touches in the box derive from his ball carrying or whether he also has a knack of arriving in the right spaces, or a mixture of the two. But, already, we are establishing a picture of a player who is already a significant threat to opposition defences.
His creative numbers aren’t yet showing the same promise as his goalscoring, with his single assist coming from 2.23 xA at 0.17 xA per 90. That said, his creative output certainly isn't bad in any regard, and it could perhaps be explained by his impressive ability to generate shots when he arrives in forward positions.
Interestingly, in the Norwegian second tier in 2017, Hauge laid on 10 assists and scored two goals coming mainly from a right-sided position, so perhaps his move to regularly playing from the left has seen his goal threat and creativity switch around. Whatever the case, his combined 0.67 xG & xA per 90 was the sixth-highest in the Eliteserien last seasn.
At 20 years of age, these are promising numbers. Whilst it may be expected that these may cool off a touch – 1198 minutes is a fairly small sample – they're numbers that certainly call for further inspection. From a data perspective, there are more than a few passing similarities with Heung-min Son, a wide forward who excels at getting into dangerous positions and generating shots from wider starting positions.
THE EYE TEST
When you apply the eye test to Hauge, it confirms what the data suggests: he is supremely talented and already proving a real menace to Norwegian defences at his young age.
Comfortable receiving both wide on the flank or in inside positions, Hauge shows an ability to carry the ball into dangerous areas through dribbling and arriving in dangerous spaces to get touches. He will willingly run in behind or hold his position to receive to feet, which makes him a versatile forward across the front line of attack.
Hauge is also deceptively quick. He can carry the ball at pace, using his body well to slalom through challenges, and maintain his balance; that enables him to get himself into dangerous areas by beating defenders on the outside or inside. He has various tricks in his locker and, importantly, posseses an excellent change of speed and direction which allows him to speed away from challenges and drive into space.
He is a player that sees value where many players may see risk, and it is probably important for his development that he is nurtured by a coach that is willing to let Hauge express himself with the knowledge that he may run his side into trouble on occasion.
He also offers a significant counter-attacking threat, identifying opportunities early to get on the move and into a receiving position, before driving forward with the ball with directness and speed.
As the data hinted, the video confirms that the end of Hauge’s ball-carrying exploits quite often result in a shot at goal. The positive side of this is that he is able to generate opportunities to shoot for himself, often moving inside the penalty area where he can use his quick feet to open a shooting angle. The drawback is that, sometimes, this is at the detriment of better passing options to players in better shooting positions.
Every time Hauge receives the ball in advanced positions his immediate thought is attacking the goal; he will drive at the defensive line with angled dribbles where he threatens both the inside and outside. He is the ideal wide player to be the beneficiary of an overload-to-isolate principle – find him one-v-one against a full-back and you will likely see reward.
When driving at the last defensive line, he sometimes can be a bit too predictable as he most often comes inside before trying to bend the ball into the far corner. Of course this is a strategy that didn’t do Arjen Robben any harm, however Hauge is more than competent on his left foot, so it may benefit him to add some variety to this aspect of his game. Additionally, developing the ability to wrap his foot around the ball, to target the near post when cutting inside, would add to his unpredictability in the final third.
Not all of his shots are generated from his ability to dribble the ball into dangerous positions though, as he also demonstrates the very handy capability of arriving into the box at the right time. He is excellent at spotting when to make a late run, when to hold his position and sneak in unnoticed on the blindside from the far post.
There is significant potential to be worked with, and the ability to generate his own shooting opportunities in the penalty area are attributes that most coaches would like to work with. At 20 years old, he has plenty of time to refine and polish these traits, sharpen his decision making, and add a few more strings to his attacking bow.
One of the most important questions to answer in the scouting process of a player is how an individual's talent will translate across leagues. Not only are there gaps in quality between different leagues, but also cultural factors too which make predicting the potential of players a tricky business. Hauge has been extremely influential in what is, relatively speaking, a weaker European league at a young age so this suggests his ceiling is well beyond his current league.
A smart move on his part may be to do similar to his compatriot Håkon Evjen – another young Norwegian with high potential – who recently made the move to AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie, a club with strong for furthering young talent. Hauge could do a lot worse than follow Evjen’s lead and seek out a move to a league where young potential can flourish by getting immediate minutes under his belt, but challenging himself in a higher level of competition. A move as such could act as the perfect finishing school to develop his skillset before seeking a move to a top five league, where his ultimate potential probably lies.
There is a long way for Jens Petter Hauge to fulfil the potential that he is showing, but there is every reason to keep your eyes out for him in the future.