Data up until March 1st 2022.
Solbakken began his career in Trondheim Norway, playing in the Rosenborg youth set up. He would leave on a free in search of first team football, where he found himself at Ranheim, another club in the Eliteserien. His first season here, he would spend much of his time not in the squad with only a few substitute appearances but eventually, nearer the end of his first season, he broke into the first team. He would cement his place at RW, starting the final 6 games of the 2018 season. At the age of 20 he would have his break out season as he starred for a poor Ranheim side scoring 6 and assisting 8, but he couldn’t prevent their relegation. It was here that he earned his move to what was fast becoming one of the most exciting projects in Europe at Bodo/Glimt, who had flown up the divisions and had just finished 2nd in 2019. Bodo and Solbakken would then ease to the Eliteserien title in 2020 in a congested season that saw them win by 19 points. He would help regain that title in 2021 and launch Bodo/Glimt into European group stage football for the first time.
CeltsAreHere.com was told Solbakken had been offered to Celtic in the summer of 2021 with his contract running out but we went with other targets. Solbakken would come to terrorise Celtic in Europe the following year getting a goal and assist across the two legs. With good performances already seen by many of the support, he could prove a popular and cost-effective signing with only 8 months until he’s a free agent.
The tall yet athletic winger is effective on both the right and the left but has most recently become Bodo’s starting winger on the right side. He is left footed so plays inverted similar to how Jota operates at Celtic. Over the past 3 seasons Ola has regularly outperformed his xG suggesting he is a strong finisher. This also might indicate that he scores from distance or non-central areas more often.
Creatively Solbakken has been improving as he develops creating as both a natural and inverted winger. At 23 he is now providing high output with 6 assists on 7.67xA. His ability to drive into space and pass the ball into more dangerous areas of the pitch is similar to what we have seen from Abada so far but more refined due to being further along in his development.
We can see below the areas Solbakken operates in. I’ve highlighted the area in red as the space he likes to drive into. We seen this in the goals he was involved in against Celtic as he drove into the half-space to create and shoot on multiple occasions. On the natural side, he hits the by-line more often to cross which is expected. His ability to play either side in different roles shows similar flexibility to Jota’s game.
His shot map shows a forward that likes to cut in and shoot and it’s clear here why he always outperforms his xG. The opener for Bodo in Norway against Celtic is also an example of his strong finishing from distance where he cuts inside and shoots across the keeper. I’ve highlighted in red a small area where he appears extremely effective and where Celtic let him score from.
I have generated an offensive and a defensive/creative forward radar to look at the data behind Solbakken and how he compares to a player he’s similar to in Jota.
Similar shapes indicate similar players. Here Solbakken mimics Jota providing a high amount of successful attacking actions, with 6.1 p90. He is also providing 0,21xG p90 while having a better aerial threat than the Celtic winger with a few headed goals so far this season. He doesn’t get on the ball as much but Celtic are more dominant, so we would expect that to increase if he played in a Celtic side. His higher goal conversion indicates a better finisher but he has far less shots p90 than Jota at only 1.68 p90.
Again, we see a similar shape of radar here. Ola providing similarly to Jota at Bodo in a similar system both defensively and creatively. He has 4 successful defensive action and 2.35 PAdj interception p90 which is similar to what we have seen from both Jota and Abada so far. Much like Jota a big part of Solbakken’s game is ball carrying using his athleticism to move his side up the park into more dangerous areas, with 7.11 dribbles p90. He provides more smart passes than Jota at 1.29 p90 and is only slightly behind on key passes at 0.85 p90 showing he is capable at creating and breaking defensive lines. He is also slightly ahead of Jota on xA at 0.19 bringing his total xG+xA to a strong 0.4 p90.
Solbakken is more than good enough to be a starter for Celtic. He matches up against our current starters very well and has already broken into the Norwegian national team. His contract is running out which means a huge transfer fee will not be involved. The only issue would be if Celtic can still convince him to come to Scotland over other sides or if we have missed our chance.