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Scouting the Scouting Trip: Potential Minnesota United Targets in Norway

by on 26 September 2016

Last week the Loons’ Sporting Director, Manny Lagos, zipped off to Scandinavia for Minnesota United’s first explicit MLS scouting trip. We are going to regularly keep tabs on his trip by looking at a few of the potential targets in Norway and Sweden.

While Lagos did not describe who or what (designated player, starter, etc…) was on his shopping list, he did give some indication that they were targeting Scandinavia in part because there will be players out of contract this winter. So, in this series, we’re mainly going to look at players whose contracts are ending since it is unlikely that the Loons will be paying transfer fees (unless it is for a target who they may want as a DP).

A quick note about the evaluative “outlook” of each player. These are best estimates as plausibility taking into consideration how likely it is that Lagos would be interested, Minnesota would have the resources, and the player might be interested as well. Whether any or all of these deals happen is obviously further tied in a million other knots.

 

Josh Gatt

25 years old, United States, winger

Gatt is the only player we know is actually on Lagos’ radar, because I specifically asked Manny about Gatt. Gatt played on Saturday in Molde’s 3-1 loss to Rosenborg in which Gatt had a stellar shot saved and provided an assist via a looping cross from the byline.

Josh Gatt shotJosh Gatt assist

The American Gatt went straight to Europe out of high school, starting first at SC Rheindorf Altach in Austria before moving to Ole Gunnar Solskjæ’s Molde in Norway in 2011. Gatt scored nine goals for the club before falling to an injury to his knee in 2013. Since then, Gatt has had a series of injuries and surgeries, but finally made his return earlier this month. It’s still very early in his return, but recent highlights (including those above) have a lot of bystanders hopeful.

Outlook: Very Good

Gatt is out of contract this winter and so it is almost certain that United will have talks with him about joining the team. At 25, he has a long career ahead of him. The two questions are: can he stay fit and would he want to leave Norway after just returning to action? Gatt’s injury-addled past certainly makes him a risk, but it also means that despite his immense talent, he cannot command the size of paycheck. If he can be brought in on a reasonable salary, he could present a low risk, high reward for the Loons. But Gatt may also not want to abandon his desire to play in Europe and he may want to stay with the club that showed faith in him during what was likely a very hard period of his career.

 

Ethan Horvath

21, United States, Goalkeeper

Also in that Molde loss to Rosenborg was another American, the 21 year old goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. Like Gatt, Horvath went straight to Europe after high school. He made his professional debut for Molde at the tender age of 19 and has been the preferred goalkeeper since summer of 2015. Horvath is tipped as one of the brightest American goalkeeping prospects, having been specifically called out by Jurgen Klinsmann as one of his “biggest hopes for the future” of American goalkeepers.

Outlook: Highly Unlikely

Horvath is under contract until 2018 and Minnesota are unlikely to want to hand over a transfer fee for a goalkeeping prospect. In addition, Horvath will likely be very reluctant to abandon his European adventure at such a young age. He is the starting goalkeeper for a young manager who is himself tipped for success. It seems very unlikely that Lagos would be able to tear him away.

 

Mahatma Otoo

24, Ghana, Forward

On Sunday, Lagos took in the Lillestrom v Sognol match in which Sognol won 2-1. On his shopping list may have been the Ghanaian center forward, Otoo who moved to the Norwegian club in 2013 after four seasons with the spectacularly nomenclatured Ghanaian club Hearts of Oak. Otoo has scored 26 goals in 62 league appearances since making the move to Norway. He has also made seven appearances for the Ghanaian national team.

Outlook: Unlikely

Otoo is out of contract this winter, but he has already begun to attract interest from clubs throughout Europe. The forward looks to be a certain talent, but the question is whether Lagos and United can both convince him to make the move to Minnesota and splash enough cash to turn his head from Europe. (To be honest, though, the “unlikely” tag is only because we have no real indication as to what level of ambition the Loons will have and how that translates to player acquisition).

 

Samuel Adegbenro

20, Nigeria, Left Winger

Lagos had the Sarpbourg v Viking match on his agenda for Saturday. One of his most likely targets was the young Nigerian winger who started his professional career last year with Viking. Adegbenro is talked about as one of the brightest young talents in the Tippeligaen. Scoring seven goals in 36 matches is just one of the reasons. Take a few minutes in a quiet place with Adegbenro’s highlight reel as well.

Outlook: Good

Adegbenro is under contract until 2018 and that means Minnesota would have to pay a transfer fee. That, in turn, could mean making Adegbenro their first designated player. And yet, this could be a pretty stellar signing for Minnesota. The outlook of “good,” here is something of a shot in the dark, admittedly. I think it is almost certain that Adegbenro is on Lagos’ list of players he’s watching. Everything else is a completely mystery.

 

Chukwuma “Bentley” Akabueze

27, Nigeria, Right Winger

Lagos took in the Stromsgodset v Odd match on Sunday and it’s very likely that Bentley was one of the primary targets. The Nigerian winger moved to Norway in 2007 to sign for Odd in Skien. He moved away to play for Brann and then spent a season with the Chinese club Wuhan Zall, before moving back to Odd. Since moving back to Odd, Bentley has 18 goals in 84 appearances

Outlook: Good

Bentley is an experienced winger who can put in goals and most importantly he’s out of contract in the winter. This last fact makes it almost certain there will be a conversation with the player. Whether that conversation moves beyond icebreakers is anyone’s guess.  http://gty.im/81659553

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