Teenagers from Eliteserien have been getting a lot of attention from top clubs playing in top-level leagues from around the world. Håkon Evjen, for example, was a subject of interest from both Manchester City and Manchester United in the summer but a move there was perhaps deemed ‘too big of a jump’ for him. He has, however, secured a fantastic move to youthful AZ Alkmaar side who are currently thriving and sitting in the upper-side of the Eredivisie table. Former Vålerenga winger Chidera Ejuke made the move to Eredivisie earlier than Evjen. The explosive Nigerian winger moved to Heerenveen in the summer of 2019 and made a massive impact thus far, registering seven goals and three assists in 19 games in all competitions.
Another one that’s rumoured to be close to a big move is Emil Bohinen of Stabæk. The 19-year-old versatile midfielder has been rumoured to be the target of several clubs with Brighton, Sheffield United, and Leeds leading the race to sign him. Bohinen has had a fantastic campaign with Stabæk in the 2019 season of Eliteserien as he managed to end the season with four goals and eight assists from 31 games.
Style of play and role at Stabæk
Bohinen is a very versatile player that can play in a wide range of positions and various roles on the pitch. Last season, he played as a defensive midfielder, central midfielder, attacking midfielder as well as right midfielder. Bohinen, however, seems to be most comfortable in a defensive midfielder position which is why he spends most of the season at Stabæk playing in the defensive midfielder spot.
Stabæk mostly play in a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 formation with Bohinen sitting at the bottom of the three-man midfielders in the middle. However, there are times when they also play with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 formation with Bohinen playing as the right-sided defensive/central midfielder, partnering with a box-to-box-styled or more offensive-minded central midfielder like Sammy Skytte, Luc Kassi, or Kristoffer Askildsen.
Bohinen is actually not very much a defensive player. He likes to go forward and join the attack, getting involved by offering support, creating chances, and most importantly, helping his team retain possession in advanced areas. However, he is usually his team’s first man when it comes to anticipating opposition counter-attack and regaining possession before it can get dangerous when in defensive transition.
Stabæk are not exactly a possession-based team. Although they tend to play out from the back, they like to go forward rather quickly usually by exchanging quick one-two touch short-medium passes or just immediately going long. Their main strength is quick breaks, utilising the pace of their forwards. Stabæk usually will exploit open spaces by playing passes behind the defence – either through the flanks or centrally. Using positional rotations and third-man runs, they are quite effective in breaking through despite not having to play a lot of passes in the build-up.
Bohinen is the playmaker. In the build-up phase, he usually drops deep and makes himself available as the first pass in midfield. He dictates tempo and makes sure the team can progress forward or escape pressure by moving the ball around, either vertically or laterally.
When his team are not in possession of the ball, they tend to defend with a medium-high block and give fairly aggressive frontline pressure. Bohinen’s task meanwhile, is to protect the space in between the midfield and defence, preventing the opposing team to combine centrally and play between the lines, often by tightly marking the option that sits in the pocket of space. His lack of defensive awareness or marking ability is often quite apparent, however, as opponents are often able to free themselves as Bohinen struggles to stick close to them.
Physicality and speed
Bohinen is 1.85m (6’1”) tall and weighs around 75kg (165lbs). He has a lean build and not particularly developed upper and lower muscles.
From what I can see, Bohinen’s strength ranks somewhere in the middle. He’s not exactly very strong and physical, but he’s not weak either. Stronger and bigger opponents can give him trouble and outmuscle him, but players with similar or smaller build are usually not a problem at all for him.
Bohinen is not very strong in aerial duels. His tall frame does help him to reach decent vertical height and good anticipation and timing of the jump usually help in aerial duels. However, he may need to work more on his strength and vertical explosiveness. Against opponents who are smaller and weaker than him, he can win aerial balls easily, but players with similar stature (but more explosive or those who have more vertical reach) or bigger, he finds it a bit more difficult to get his head on the ball. His ability to direct the ball with his head is also fairly poor. If he can work on that and be better in his overall aerial ability, it will be a massive boost to his game although it’s not really a key part of his game.
Bohinen averaged around 4.4 aerial challenges per game last season with a success rate of 50%. This is pretty decent, but a player of his height can certainly win a bit more than that.
Despite his size, Bohinen actually has pretty decent agility. He seems to be able to rotate his hips and manoeuvre at a decent speed. However, Bohinen has fairly poor body balance which is why even a light body contact can render him off balance and potentially dispossess him. Heavier contact can even cause him to tumble down.
The 1999-born midfielder also has decent speed over short, medium, or long-range. He’s not a very explosive player and doesn’t burst into full speed very quickly. However, once he’s able to get into his stride, he’s able to maintain stable speed. Pace is obviously not his strength though, although he has shown his impressive ability numerous times to progress with the ball from his own half into deep inside opposition half, relying on his impressive ball control and composure to glide past defenders slowly but surely, beating them one by one.
Bohinen seems to have pretty decent stamina. He is very active in both attack and defence, showing high level of work rate. He is very active in engaging opponents in duels, whether it be attacking, defensive, or aerial duels. He actively presses opposing players and as mentioned before, also tightly marks certain players in his own half. However, he doesn’t run all the time. Meaning, he tends to pick his moments when pressing to conserve his stamina. He does seem to show a slight drop of performance and signs of being tired through his gesture especially after a long sprint or late in the second half. His tendency to walk rather than jog into position in the second half is also a sign of him not having a lot of energy anymore in the advanced stages of the game.
Ball receiving, ball-retention, and distribution
Bohinen’s strongest attribute is his excellent technical ability. Combine that with his tactical understanding and game intelligence and you’ve already got the materials to make a good playmaker.
The 20-year-old defensive midfielder is very neat on the ball. He has very good first touch and ball control and he’s able to use either foot quite well which improves his flexibility on the ball as he can turn and move anywhere he wants with the ball.
Bohinen also likes to receive with an open shape to allow greater vision of the pitch by receiving with the inside of his back foot.
Statistically, Bohinen registered an average of eight attacking duels per game last season with a winning rate of 55% which is quite impressive and shows how good he is when it comes to retaining the ball under pressure.
Bohinen’s decent strength helps him a little bit to hold off defenders but it’s his excellent technical proficiency as well as calmness and composure that usually get him out of difficult situations, especially when in tight spaces and under pressure.
Dribbling may not be a big part of his game but at certain times and when executed perfectly, Bohinen’s impressive dribbling ability can create a breakthrough for his team. He may not really be as quick-footed and skilful as certain players with bags of tricks up his sleeve, but he’s certainly effective.
Above, for example, with no options available, Bohinen decided to bring the ball forward himself, skipping past the challenges of three defenders that come at him one by one. As mentioned before, he may not be very quick and explosive, however, his excellent touch and control of the ball when dribbling as well as decent agility is already enough for him to beat multiple players. His teammate, meanwhile, took the opportunity to make a forward run into space behind the defence.
Having dribbled past three players, Bohinen then played a pass through onto the path of his teammate who in turn took a shot that was on target.
The 20-year-old midfielder averaged 3.1 dribbles per game last season with a pretty impressive success rate of 62%. Bohinen also averaged around 1.34 progressive runs per game last season.
As a playmaker, passing is, of course, absolutely key to his game. Not just the execution, but his vision, awareness, quick thinking, and decision making is certainly a pivotal part of his playmaking ability.
Above is an example of Bohinen’s ability to spot the run of his teammates and play a well-weighted pass there. This is what makes Bohinen so important to Stabæk and their tactics. A switch of play will force their opposition to move and rearrange their block but when the switch is executed quickly and perfectly, Stabæk can catch their opposition unprepared and hit them on the break.
In this situation, Bohinen controlled the ball with his right and immediately sent the ball with his left to the space on the opposite flank, onto the path of Ronald Hernández who’s already making his run. His body orientation allowed him great vision of the pitch, his movement when receiving the ball was effective, he struck the ball with confidence, and his execution was perfect.
Statistically, Bohinen registered an average of 48 passes per game with 85% accuracy. An average of four of his total passes were long passes with 60% accuracy. He also averaged around 14 progressive passes per game with 75% of them being accurate. Impressively, he also created an average of 1.05 key passes per game with an accuracy of 61%.
Bohinen likes to take shots from long-range. He is a good striker of the ball and seems to have decent accuracy.
According to his stats, Bohinen averaged around 0.87 shots per game last season with an accuracy of 44%.
As you can see from the picture above, Bohinen actually takes a fair amount of shot from outside the box but misses most of them. However, inside the box he is understandably more accurate although perhaps he can be more effective.
He does strike the ball with good technique, either with the inside or outside of his foot. He’s able to produce powerful, curling shots which can be quite a problem for goalkeepers. Although from the picture he misses most of his shots from outside the box, he tends to not miss by much. If he can improve on that, surely it can be a secret weapon for him.
Bohinen seems to have the tendency to rush his shots though which often result in opponents being able to read this situation and block his shots. In most situations, he could have feinted to render his opponent off balance or make sure that the path of his shot is clear first before hitting one.
Bohinen is mainly left-footed and takes most of his shots with his left. He tends to avoid using his weaker foot unless he’s forced.
As mentioned before, Bohinen is a player that likes to get involved in advanced areas despite playing as a defensive midfielder, but his defensive prowess is not too shabby either.
What impresses me a lot is Bohinen’s ability to read the game, position himself accordingly, use momentum and timing to dispossess opponents despite not being a very strong player. His average of eight interceptions and six ball recoveries per game is clear proof that he reads situations very well and often manages to be in the right position at the right time.
Bohinen is not really an aggressive player that likes to get stuck in and commit heavy tackles. He likes to stay on his feet while making the tackle as you can see above.
Statistically, he averaged around 10 defensive challenges per game with a success rate of 52% which is quite impressive. Again, this is mostly due to his intelligence in defence – smart positioning, good reading of the game, and good timing to dispossess. He also registered an average of 5.7 tackles per game with a 57% success rate which is also impressive.
Positioning, movements, and reading of the game
Bohinen shows great confidence as well as excellent awareness of position and space. He moves around a lot not just to offer support for his teammate, but also to create space for him or his teammate to exploit. He always shows the desire to have the ball at his feet and always scans around prior to and after receiving the ball all of these are what make him always one step ahead of his opponents.
As mentioned before, Bohinen always looks to be the first pass in the midfield and is tasked to progress the ball into advanced areas, either via passing or dribbling as he’s quite proficient in both.
In the situation above, Bohinen moved closer to the right-back offering an option to exit pressure. At the same time, his movement attracted the opposing left-sided central midfielder who closed him down and left the Stabæk right-sided central midfielder free. If you also look closer, prior to receiving the ball, Bohinen took a look over his shoulder to check the position of his teammates and his opponent.
However, after successfully getting the ball forward or at least out of his own half, Bohinen will immediately push forward and often sit in half-spaces to create an attacking overload situation and also provide support. He’s the main man when it comes to switching play so positioning himself closer to the flank allows his teammate to give the ball to him easily and Bohinen will do the rest. The situation below is an example of this.
The same also happens when the ball is on the left side of the field.
The situation is a bit different in the picture above though as in here, Bohinen positioned himself in a pocket of space, looking to make himself available as an option to progress the ball and combine in between the lines. Unlike what a pivot would normally do, Bohinen doesn’t stay centrally and will move into pockets of spaces in the opposition half, mostly in half-space areas. He’s somewhat of a hybrid of a ‘6’ and an ‘8’.
The heatmap shows his average positioning per game and again, from there you can see that he does get forward and get involved in advanced areas a lot as he is inside his own half. And again, he has the tendency to move and sit in half-space areas rather than stay centrally.
As mentioned before in this tactical analysis/scout report, in defence, Bohinen usually sits in between the midfield and defensive lines as he’s tasked to cut off passing options in between the lines.
At times, he can be seen marking the area. But some other times, especially when the ball is on either flank, he can be seen marking his opponent man for man, thus helping to isolate the ball-carrier while his teammate exert pressure on the ball.
As you can see above, Bohinen shows good understanding with his teammate, good anticipation, and good decision making. In this situation, Bohinen was marked tightly by the opposing striker and passing the ball to him to progress would not be a good choice. However, Andreas Hanche-Olsen saw some space to drive into with the ball and he did so, leaving his spot quite vulnerable. Bohinen saw this and instead of moving forward, he provided cover in anticipation of if the former lost the ball upfront.
Bohinen is undoubtedly a highly talented player with an impressive all-around skillset. He does still need to improve in his strength and physicality, but overall, he has already shown that he is a very good midfielder able to perform well as a deep-lying playmaker as he is in an advanced playmaker role.
Moving to Premier League or Championship will be a huge jump and although he has been extremely impressive at Eliteserien level, I’m not quite sure he’ll be able to play regularly at such a high level yet. I believe mid or upper table Eredivisie sides or similar level should take a look at him as I feel a move there is ideal and perhaps better for his development.