A month ago, TV2/VG presented "Rosenborg's wish list":
Brede Paulsen Hangeland, Viking, 22 years, defence/midfield
Morten Gamst Pedersen, Tromsø, 22 years, attacker
Magne Hoset, Molde, 23 years, midfield/attack
Tommy Øren, Sogndal, 23 years, attacker
Erik Nevland, Viking, 26 years, attacker
"Hangeland and Gamst are interesting players for us. I can confirm that we placed a bid for Hangeland, but it soon became clear that a transfer is ruled out. Viking demands EUR 2.4 million for him, and we simply will not get him," Sports Director Bratseth says to rbkweb.com.
"When it comes to Gamst Pedersen, it is impossible for us to outbid any foreign club. Hence, we haven't started talks with Tromsø, nor have we placed a bid."
Fantasy The rest of the so-called wish list, that Norwegian broadcaster TV2 first introduced and that the daily VG followed up with references to Norway's Roman Abramovitch, are pure speculations:
"This is the wish list of Håvard Johnsen of TV2. He started listing some names for me, and I answered 'yes, it is players of this category that we are searching for, namely the best of their respective clubs.' It should be clear that we are not interested in Tommy Øren. Neither is Erik Nevland of interest," Rune Bratseth ascertains.
It has been tumults in "The City of Roses" (Molde) from the rumours that RBK hunts Magne Hoset. But they can calm down: Rosenborg is not interested.
"Hoset too would have been too expencive if we had wanted to buy him," Rune Bratseth says.
No limits The past years have heard a supposed fact that says Rosenborg and Bratseth are willing to pay a maximum of NOK 5 million (EUR 600 000) for a Norwegian player. The Sports Director denies this:
"We have no such limits. If it is the right player, we are intent upon paying what is needed. But it is as said not interesting to spend EUR 2.4 million on a player like Brede Hangeland."
One thing is a certainty, and that is that Rosenborg is going to get some new players this summer. Coach Ola By Rise has nearly demanded some new faces in the squad.
But why do you wait until close to Champions League qualifications to strengthen the squad? Wouldn't it be better to give new players the winter and spring to play themselves into the team?
"The need for reinforcements was not that big before the start of the season. We felt that we should get through the spring season with our current squad, and it looks to go ok."
"As for the qualifications in end of July, we do not think that players we get this summer will get a central role this early. It is not until autumn that we expect them to be valuable," Bratseth says.
This sounds like a carbon copy of Jan Gunnar Solli's first half year at Lerkendal. The Telemark lad was bought from Odd Grenland last July, but he did not show himself until November - in the cup final and the away match against Red Star.
Russell + one player Rune Bratseth confirms that new players are coming, but the shopping manager is secretive about new names.
"We will get two new players this summer. The current squad is good enough, but we need back up, especially in the defence."
Does the Royal League, which starts in November, influct the number of new players?
"Somewhat. We want to have 24-25 players in the squad," Bratseth ascertains.
And this goal RBK will acchieve: Currently, the A squad counts 21 men. As of July 1st one has two new "own" players in place: Christer George returns from one year loan in Spanish 2nd division club Cordoba, while the 16-year old Per Ciljan Skjelbred leaves the junior team and becomes a full fletched senior player. With Bratseth's two new players, the count is 25.
But the Rosenborg Sports Director is not willing to say much about what two new players he thinks will come to Lerkendal.
"It is hazardous to mention names. Let's wait and see..."
However, Bratseth admits that one of the two probably will be Robbie Russell. The 24-year old Sogndal player is originally a midfielder, but has been turned into a fullblooded right back. Some weeks ago, the Internet daily TV2 Nettavisen reported that Sogndal does not want to sell the American international, but it is no reason to worry for those who wants to see Russell in the RBK shirt.
"Do not believe everything you read. Robbie Russell is still an issue for us," Rune Bratseth confirms.
When RBK tried to get the American last winter, a trade was mentioned, where Sogndal were going to get Lars Blixt and money for the player.
"Yes, we talked with Sogndal about such a solution, but it's not an issue now. To trade away Blixt has not been mentioned this time."
Is perhaps Bengt Sæternes the second player?
"I think he will get too expencive..." a secretive Rune Bratseth says.
We will see. Club Brugge has put a price tag of EUR 1 million on Sæternes, and it should be within reach for Bratseth, which as mentioned does not have a limit.
HEADHUNTERS: Rune Bratseth and Ola By Rise shall see to continued success at Lerkendal, and thus need new faces in the squad.
Photo: Thomas Myren
Searches mostly in the Nordic countries So it seems likely that Robbie Russell will join Rosenborg this summer. But it is less likely that the second player will be as "exotic":
"We will only rarely get players from 'the rest of the world'. There are a number of foreigners in Norwegian football these days, but a mere 10 % has been a success. We have tried, too, with players like Robert Boateng and MacBeth Sibaya. Sibaya played well during the WC summer 2002, but did not outmatch Ørjan Berg for a place on the team."
"RBK has gained from picking more local [Norwegian and Northern European] players, and we will most likely continue this policy. First and foremost, we are looking to the Nordic countries [Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands] when we shall buy players.
You already have a man with a good feel for the Swedish league, Per Joar Hansen, but do you use for instance Åge Hareide as a scout in Denmark?
"We talk with everyone that has knowledge and experience! But yes, Åge is definitely a man we talk to."
Yes, have you for instance considered Mohamed Zodan in Denmark? The FC Midtjylland forward is being hunted by among others Monaco and Hamburg now.
"He is priced too high. All players that are interesting for foreign top clubs will be too expensive for us. Some might think that we should get there before Hamburg did, but they are not asleep. As a rule, they have followed the player for a long time before signalling interest."
Some people voice the opinion that Rosenborg should employ scouts. Rune Bratseth does not agree.
"A network of scouts we do not need. Nor can we afford it. There is a multitude of agents that gives us tips on new players, all the time. The telephone rings constantly to tell us who is available."
Status report The past few months Rune Bratseth and Rosenborg has mentioned several names in public. Most of these are now out of the question - some of the cases are described earlier in this article. Finally, Bratseth gives a status report for the remaining names:
Martin Andresen, Stabæk, 27 years, midfielder (Back after a half year's loan to Blackburn.)
"He has now signed a new long-term contract (3 ½ years) with Stabæk, and both he and the club has signalled that a transfer to RBK is out of the question."
Ardian Gashi, Vålerenga, 22 years, midfielder (Chose VIF over RBK when he left Ørn Horten this winter.)
"He is not an issue now."
Daniel Fredheim Holm, Vålerenga, 18 years, forward (Sold from Skeid this winter.)
"Never an issue for us before he left Skeid."
Daniel Omaya Braaten, Skeid, 22 years, forward (Bosman player when season ends - rumours of a transfer to Vålerenga.)
"This Daniel has on the other hand been interesting for us. But both player and Skeid wanted a sale to a foreign club this winter (test played for French Lens). What happens now, we are not involved in."
Thorstein Helstad, Austria Wien, 27 years, forward (May be on his way somewhere else.)
"He is not an issue."
Trond Andersen, Aalborg, 29 years, defence/midfield («Perfect replacement for Hoftun,» according to Åge Hareide.)
"But shall he play instead of Erik? If we were to get a player that old, it would be to put him on the team at once."
Øyvind Svenning, GIF Sundsvall, 24 years, defence/attack (Said no to RBK this winter. Southampton and Feyenoord has showed interest.)
"He has just been operated for a crucial injury. We do not buy an injured player."
Ragnar Klavan, Flora Tallinn, 18 years, defence/midfield (Trained with RBK at Lerkendal last fall and at Tenerife in January.)
"We have not had contact with nor the player or the club since January, when he played one half of the friendly against CSKA Sofia."
Anders Stadheim, Sogndal, 23 years, midfield Last year, VG quoted you as saying that the B-national team player is not interesting for RBK...
"I was quoted saying that??!? Well, goes to show what papers can write..."
Maybe Alexander Ødegaard is interesting as well?
"That he may. We do keep an eye on what happens both in Sogndal and in the other clubs."
Steffen Iversen, clubless, 27 years, forward (Contract with Wolverhampton just expired. Wants to keep playing abroad.)
"It does not seem like Steffen has the motivation to become a RBK player again. We only want fully motivated players."