Odin Thiago Holm is likely one of the next big talents coming out of Norway. Holm has been on the radar of big clubs for a long time and was on The Guardian’s Next Gen list in 2020, which also included players like Jamal Musiala, Rayan Cherki and Xavi Simons. Two knee injuries in 2021 and 2022 hampered his development as he missed the start of both of those seasons. This season though Holm has started every single league match so far in a Valerenga side that has been struggling with only three wins in ten games, just like last season.
The 20-year-old has mainly been playing as the single pivot in a 4-3-3 this season, but has also played one of the two central midfielders. Holm has quite average height, standing at 1.80, but still has quite a frail frame lacking some muscle mass. He is not afraid of the physical side of the game though and with smart usage of his body he still is able to win a lot of duels. However, in pure shoulder-to-shoulder duels, on the wing for example, he will struggle and can get bullied by more physical players. Holm glides very neatly over the pitch and has very solid acceleration and speed over longer distances. He is also a very agile player and can easily turn with the ball in congested areas. Despite not being the tallest he is actually pretty decent in the air winning a good amount of aerial duels with his good leap.
Valerenga most often play quite slow possession-based football and Holm is an important factor in their build-up here. Playing just in front of his defensive line Holm is Enga’s playmaker and the one to dictate the tempo. However, it does limit him in the amount of freedom he has to go forward and be involved in the final third, which is a shame.
Holm is a very technically gifted player and makes the things he does look very easy at first glance, when they really aren’t that easy. He is very good at receiving the ball, being able to easily control it with both feet, inside and outside. He scans very well before taking his first touch, so you will not often see him getting caught off guard. Holm is able to play at a high tempo and make quick decisions, but also does well finding space between the lines, giving him that little bit of extra time on the ball. He is also great at body feints to create that extra bit of space between him and his opponent and allowing him to turn with the ball, making him very difficult to dispossess overall.
The youngster is a great passer of the ball and is very consistent with his short passes. I would love to see him take a little more risk in his passing though, as only around 1/4th of his passes is forward and he mostly distributes the ball to the wings. He also doesn’t really carry the ball forward often, averaging under a single progressive run per 90 minutes this season as the defensive midfielder. He also has a very clean striking technique, but especially as the single pivot he barely comes in the position to shoot. This goal from 2021 against Rosenborg is too good not to share:
Defensively he positions himself very well and gets back quick in transitions. Usually, he sits just in front of the defensive line, but this season he has also dropped back as an extra centre back at times. He follows the ball well horizontally and supports his teammates when he spots danger, also scanning very well in this phase of the game. He also reads the game well, intercepting a good amount of passes, and recognizes moments to press up higher up the pitch. In these situations, he can be a little too enthusiastic though, which is quite a risk if he plays as the sole defensive midfielder leaving Valerenga vulnerable when they don’t recover the ball. Also I feel like he could de better in his defensive duels with a little bit more intensity and aggression at times.
Overall Odin Thiago Holm is a very exciting midfielder who is very press resistant. However, he is still pretty frail and still has some steps to make in the physical department. Personally, I think he would do best in a 4-3-3 with a double pivot, something we haven’t seen yet at Valerenga. Recently it has been reported that Holm is moving to Celtic this summer, which could be a great stepping stone. Personally, I would’ve liked to see him finish at least this season in Norway still, before moving on following Osame Sahraoui’s example, since he is quite frail still. Holm has played 3206 minutes (equivalent to 35 full matches) in the Eliteserien in the past three years in 68 matches and I think he isn’t fully done learning yet. He is a fantastic footballer who, if he stays fit and gains some mass, can easily reach the top five leagues in the future.