Bodø/Glimt have been outstanding in 2020 but with plenty of their stars likely to leave to some of Europe’s bigger leagues over the next year, the key to their continued success will be in their recruitment. In Hugo Vetlesen, the Eliteserien champions-elect have made a terrific signing for both their short-term and longer-term success. This scout report will aim to show what Vetlesen will bring to Bodø/Glimt, and provide a tactical analysis of his likely role in the team.
Possible role at Bodø/Glimt
Primarily a central midfielder with an attacking mindset, Vetlesen had been used in several positions for former team Stabæk in 2020. Interestingly, given Jens Petter Hauge’s recent move to AC Milan, Vetlesen has played a lot of minutes on the left-side of midfield of late.
Whilst being a different type of player in that position to Hauge, Vetlesen possesses a lot of skills that would see him fit well into the tactics of his new side if deployed on the left of a front three. As well as this, Vetlesen also looks very capable of playing as one of the two more advanced central midfielders in Bodø/Glimt’s regular tactics.
As we can see from his heatmap, Vetlesen likes to play in-between the opposition midfield and defensive lines and typically picks up positions in the half-spaces. This is a mindset that should see him fit seamlessly into the tactics of his new team. The rest of this analysis will look at Vetlesen’s attacking and defensive contribution, and how this will work in the tactics of his new team.
One of the key traits of what has made Bodø/Glimt so successful this season is their work out of possession, particularly their counter-pressing in the final third. Were Vetlesen to replace Hauge on the left of the front three, he would be tasked with replicating the impressive numbers of his predecessor (Hauge averaged 2.04 final third recoveries per 90 minutes, 0.45 of these being classed as dangerous).
Vetlesen’s own statistics playing in a team who press much more conservatively, however, offer plenty of promise that he can get to the same level. He averages 1.43 final third recoveries per 90 minutes, whilst his dangerous recoveries (defined by Wyscout as a recovery that leads to a shot within 20 seconds) number of 0.48 is not only higher than that of Hauge’s but also accounts for a very impressive 33% of all recoveries. This shows that Vetlesen is an intelligent presser and knows when exactly is the right time to leave his defensive shape and engage the opponent.
A statistic that strengthens the view of his suitability as a Hauge replacement is that his six final third recoveries on the left flank in the last year have resulted in three shots (two on target) with an xG of 0.86. This compares well with Hauge’s 14 recoveries, five resultant shots, and an xG of 0.96, especially considering Vetlesen has played in a fairly more conservative pressing system.
What makes Vetlesen such an effective presser is his tactical intelligence as well as the agility and acceleration he possesses. Each of these traits is displayed in the below image.
Here we can see his team in a fairly static mid-block with just the centre-forward pressing the possessor. Vetlesen spots that the opponent about to receive the short pass is square-on to the play, and with being right-footed will be looking to open his body out to play downfield. His acceleration and five-yard pace allow him to close down the attempted clearance and set his team on a dangerous counter-attack.
The following image shows another occasion in which Vetlesen’s awareness and pace proves a real strength.
This time his team are in a broken defensive structure which could be easily played through should Vetlesen not reach the possessor before he can play a pass. Vetlesen, having taken a look around and seemingly communicated with a teammate on his outside, decides to engage the player about to receive the ball. He covers the ground extremely quickly having arguably looked the second favourite at this stage and forces a poor clearance and turnover of possession.
It’s not just in his pressing where Vetlesen defends effectively, his energy and defensive work rate mean he consistently tracks back to help his full-back or fellow midfielders. An area of his game where he probably has an edge over Hauge is in his body strength. Despite not possessing a physically-imposing frame (height of 174cm and weight of 72kg), Vetlesen is deceptively strong and wins a fair share of defensive duels (49.46% success rate from an average of 5.32 duels per 90 minutes) for someone of his physical stature.
The above image shows Vetlesen in a successful defensive duel. Here the pass has been played into an opponent he is initially affording a couple of yards of space. Vetlesen is able to use his body strength to get in front of the intended receiver and win possession. Vetlesen’s speed and intelligence are, of course, also crucial in this scenario.
One of Vetlesen’s biggest strengths is his ability to carry the ball and drive at the opposition from central or wide areas. Assuming he will be deployed on the left side of Bodø/Glimt’s front three, Vetlesen’s natural tendency to move inside off the flank will make an effective attacking weapon, albeit in a differing fashion to Hauge.
Hauge is best described as an inverted winger or inside forward when operating in this position, whereas Vetlesen would be better described as a wide attacking midfielder/playmaker in a similar vein to a player such as EPL-man Jack Grealish. The main difference in their playing styles is that Hauge would receive the ball in his wide position before looking to move inside, whereas Vetlesen will often drift more centrally from a wide position prior to receiving the ball.
The above image shows a typical scenario of this behaviour. Vetlesen had started this move near the touchline but on progressing the play his inclination is to drive centrally. This causes some confusion in the opposition defence in that the full-back and centre-back are unsure who’s responsible for picking him up (zonal or man-marking).
Whilst being different tactically to how Hauge operated, this method should still prove effective in that opportunities for Bodø/Glimt’s attacking left-back Fredrik André Bjørkan to overlap will be plentiful, as well as allowing more space for the usual left-sided central midfielder Ulrik Saltnes to operate in and create overloads on the left flank.
Despite his tendency to drift inwards, Vetlesen is still comfortable picking the ball up in wider areas and cutting inside from there.
Here Vetlesen is found in a 1v1 situation against the opposition full-back. He shows strong dribbling ability as he feints to go outside, forcing his opponent to over-commit that side, before then coming inside with the ball. If faced with this situation at his new team, Bjørkan would typically be overlapping, providing yet more uncertainty for the opposition defender as well as an additional option for Vetlesen.
Despite being a skilled dribbler, Vetlesen’s attempted dribbles per 90 minutes (2.74) and success rate (45.83%) fall a little way below that of Hauge (63.25% of his average 7.7 per 90 are successful). Whilst Vetlesen’s number of attempted dribbles would be expected to increase playing for his new team, it is imperative that he maintains or even improves his success rate.
As mentioned earlier, Vetlesen is deceptively strong despite his slight frame and excels in protecting the ball. He is aggressive in possession, and his pace also helps in being able to get between the ball and the opponent. As a result, opposition defenders find it particularly difficult to dispossess him and often resort to fouling. Such a skillset draws another comparison to Grealish.
The above image shows Vetlesen shielding the ball excellently, frustrating the man at his back and drawing a foul. His body position here is key, using his strength to lean into his opponent whilst remaining in control of the ball.
As with his defensive duel numbers, Vetlesen shows a good offensive duel success rate for a player of his type and stature, winning 44.3% of his average 8.52 per 90 minutes.
Vetlesen also moves intelligently off the ball, picking up clever positions in the half-spaces and/or in-between the opposition defence and midfield lines. From these positions, he is comfortable receiving passes into feet and producing intricate passing interplay.
In the above image, Vetlesen has drifted infield from his starting position on the left. He picks up a position in-between the lines and is able to make himself available for a one-two.
His taking up of these types of positions will be beneficial to his new team as they often face teams who will defend with two compact lines. With Vetlesen able to both pick out key passes and dribble from this position, he will be able to entice opposition defenders to break those lines.
Vetlesen, similarly to Hauge, is also good at making unmarked movements into dangerous areas when play is developing on the opposite wing.
Here, he has taken up a position on the edge of the area with no opponent within three or four yards of him. The key here is the timing of his run and the awareness of when to make himself available as a passing option. Upon receiving the ball in this position, Vetlesen has the option to let the ball come across his body and shoot with his left foot but chooses to play an intricate pass into an onrushing teammate which completely unbalances the closest defender.
As well as excelling in short passing interplay situations, Vetlesen is also comfortable playing through balls behind the opposition lines.
Primarily right-footed, Vetlesen is able to pass just as well with his left foot, increasing the passing angles available to him.
His passing statistics are slightly below-par for a midfield player, averaging only 23.99 passes per 90 minutes with an accuracy rate of 74.56%. However, further inspection shows that over a third of these passes (8.33) are forward passes with 3.4 of them being passes into the final third. This shows that Vetlesen is not a midfielder who plays most of his passes sideways and backwards, but is instead always looking to play on the front foot, a trait that makes him well suited to Bodø/Glimt’s tactics. It’s also worth noting that as a general rule, his passing numbers would be expected to increase playing in a stronger team.
Goals and assists
An area of his game Vetlesen must improve upon in order to prove an adequate replacement for Hauge is his final product. His four goals and two assists pale in comparison to Hauge’s and, whilst again allowances have to made for the difference in overall quality of Stabæk and Bodø/Glimt, he still needs to produce more in the final third.
Closer inspection of Vetlesen’s numbers show that he is slightly overperforming in both metrics, his xG only 2.18 whilst his xA is just 1.09. Of course, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions with low numbers such as these but they do suggest a little cause for concern.
In his new team, Vetlesen would expect to be presented with better chances and better passing options in order to increase his attacking output, though it’s crucial he improves his finishing.
As we can see from the above graphic, Vetlesen does not hit the target regularly enough from close range with a lot of his attempts missing to the left of the goal. Despite him having overperformed slightly on his xG, each of his goals have come from higher-quality chances which further highlights him not being the strongest of finishers.
It’s also noticeable how he hasn’t attempted any shots from outside the area from the left channel. This is slightly worrying given how many attempts Hauge had from this zone.
Hugo Vetlesen looks to be a smart signing for Bodø/Glimt. Primarily a central midfielder, the suspicion is that he will be used to fill the void left by Jens Petter Hauge on the left of his new team’s front three having played a similar role of late for Stabæk. He is a player with a skill set capable of bringing a new aspect to the tactics of his new team, though he will need to improve his goals and assists output.
As well as being a smart piece of business from the Eliteserien league leaders, this is also a terrific move for Vetlesen himself, most likely allowing him the opportunity to compete in the UEFA Champions League next year.