Sivert Mannsverk: Scouting Report by Alexandre Bovey
Preferred foot: Right
Height: 1,85 m
Age: 21 (08.05.2002)
Club: Molde FK
International: Norway U21
Born in 2002 in Øvre Årdal, Norway, Sivert Mannsverk has been on the radar of European scouts for a couple of years, with reported interest from the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brighton, Everton, Bologna, Inter Milan and Feyenoord. Coming out of Sogndal, a second-tier club in the western county of Vestland, he joined Molde FK in August 2021 and has played 69 games, starting most of them. As part of that team, he won their fifth Eliteserien title and fifth Norwegian cup in 2022; he even scored the winning goal during the cup final against Bodø/Glimt. He is considered one of the best young players in the Eliteserien, and has represented Norway at youth international level from under-15 to under-21 (see here for more info from the Norwegian Football Federation).
Based on his statistical profile (see the two radars below and the stats for which he stands in the high-70s-to-90s percentiles among positional peers, in his FBREF report), we can clearly see that his specialty is deep playmaking and progression. And he contributes defensively through smart interventions to steal the ball from the opponents: aside from positioning or marking, he is pretty good at provoking turnovers and he stands out particularly in terms of interceptions, which rank high even after adjusting for possession (PAdj Interceptions), with about 2.3 per 90. As Casey Evans remarked, Mannsverk is “a really exceptional talent in midfield, progresses the ball excellently from deeper areas and provides a lot of protection to the backline as well.” He has certain traits of a Michael Carrick or a Sergio Busquets – a smooth operator sitting deep in front of the defense, smartly recycling and distributing the ball to complete the build up phase, and who isn’t the most aggressive tackler (like Casemiro for instance) but defends through smart positioning and anticipations – though to reach that profile or level would require various improvements, which we’ll address later on.
Radar for Mannsverk based on 501 minutes played over the last 365 days, and compared to positional peers in “Men’s Next 8 Competitions”. Source of data: Fbref and Opta.
Radar based on Mannsverk’s stats in 24 Eliteserien appearances during 2022 (created by Statsbomb; found on Twitter).
As can be seen in this compilation, Mannsverk has the skillset to intercept or receive the ball from deep or in the middle third, step away from the first line of pressure and carry the ball to the opponent’s half or the final third. His passing is also excellent, especially at a medium-to-long range. He not only uses it for recycling and switching the play, but for progressing into dangerous areas: he averages about 12 progressive passes per game, which puts him in the 99th percentile among midfielders at the level of “Men’s Next 8 Competitions” (e.g. the Dutch and Portuguese leagues); as well as 7 passes into the final third (95th percentile). Together, these are reflected in his high xGBuildup value – 0.86 per 90, i.e. 93rd percentile according to Statsbomb -, which measures a player’s contribution to the build up preceding a goalscoring chance (in other words not the final assist or shot-creating action, but the steps preceding those).
His position is not completely settled, as he has played both a more DM (defensive midfielder) role and higher up CM (central midfielder) role. His interceptions, ball recoveries and anticipations are very good, but if he is to be relied upon for a deep playmaking role with more defensive responsibilities, his main area of improvement is in tackling, aerial duels, and aggressivity/pressing (he ranks very low in pressures and pressure regains, then again that might depend on what instructions he is given within the midfield group). On the other hand, if he adopts a more box-to-box midfield role, his end product (assists, shot-creating/goal-creating actions, shots on target, goals) would need to improve compared to what we’ve seen so far (as well as his ability to regain the ball through pressing).
Among young promising players, deep and defensive playmakers aren’t as widespread as more advanced, BTB, creative central midfielders, but Mannsverk has already shown he has the potential skills of a solid and intelligent DM in the style of Carrick, Busquets or Nemanja Matic during the past decade. On top of his exciting potential, he is interesting because he would be pretty cheap for a club in the big five European leagues, and could first provide cover for an aging player before imposing himself as his successor.