By Liam Scahill
The Icelandic Acquisition
It could be argued after Doctor Xia’s latest cash splashing that some of Aston Villa’s midfield troops would not look out of place as a supporting act at an ACDC gig or even members of a Scandinavian Eurovision entry. Lansbury, Jedinak and Icelandic heartthrob “Thor” aka Birkir Bjarnason all display an image that conjures an impression of some real rough and ready Rockstar attitude. Birkir at 28 years of age signed from FC Basel in the Swiss Super League, is perhaps the most recent high profile acquisition that we know least about.
Prior to the Euros, Bjarnason would only have been on the radar of footballing hipsters on British shores. Thor and his Icelandic teammates had the summer of their lives in France, their honest effort infused footballing philosophy, earnt them rave reviews and fans alike from every corner of the globe. All the razzmatazz on the international stage must seem a million miles away for Birkir now, as he and his fellow new recruits adjust to life at the Villa.
So, what can we expect from Birkir? Well, there’s always the youtube scouting method that has been gathering dust since the “moneyball” days of Paddy Riley.
Interesting viewing? But then again weren’t we all once entranced and bewitched by one Aleksandar Tonev from his array of alluring youtube skill videos, we all know how that one ended.
Interview on Bjarnason
To learn more about Thor, MOMS reached out to Icelandic Sports Journalist Jðhann Ingi Hafpðrs who kindly agreed to do a Q&A on Villa’s new acquisition.
Jðhann is an avid follower of Championship football as he follows Leeds Utd, so he can give us all some perspective on what we have acquired in a footballing sense with the signing of Thor.
MOMS: Hi Jðhann, thank you so much for your time, tell us a bit about yourself?
Jðhann: I’m a 25-year-old sports journalist from Iceland. I do follow the Championship more than most people in Iceland because I’m an avid follower of Leeds Utd.
How did Birkir earn the nickname of “Thor” in Iceland?
I think the nickname did not originate in Iceland. He is Icelandic and has similar looks to the Thor character in the Marvel Comic movies hence the name.
Has Birkir always harboured an ambition to apply his trade in English football?
He did an interview with the newspaper I work for after the transfer to Aston Villa and that’s what he alluded to. It says a lot that he was willing to move from Champions League football, to the Championship with Villa, so he was really keen on moving to England.
Bjarnarson is known for his versatility across the midfield positions but where in your opinion is his most natural position?
He can play as a left winger to good effect, as seen at the Euros last summer. When Icelandic captain Aron Gunnarsson was not playing Birkir was the first in line to cover him. He surprised a lot of people by how accomplished he was as a holding midfielder, so I would say left wing / holding midfield are his best positions.
In terms of footballing attributes what will Birkir add to the Villa team?
As a winger, he isn’t the quickest player but he is a clever footballer. He’s got a good shot at goal in his locker accompanied with decent crossing ability. He makes well timed runs into the box which adds goals to his armoury. Defensively he is also good and will always cover his full-back. In the holding midfield role, he will run his heart out and cover more ground than anyone on the pitch, he gives it everything and has the knack of breaking up opponent’s attacks.
Does he have any obvious weaknesses in his game?
He isn’t a pacey player, he tends to have a game every now and then where he gets kind of lost.
Has Birkir’s transfer story to the Villa been widely covered in Iceland and can we expect some new Icelandic fans?
It was by far the biggest story of that day and everyone got excited for him because we adore English football and everyone over here knows of Villa. People will follow Villa for sure and be happy when they win.
Thanks, Jðhann, for your time. You’re a massive Leeds fan, are Leeds heading for promotion this year?
Well, we’ve got a big chance. Newcastle and Brighton are very strong but we’re not that far behind them. I’m hopeful but not exactly expecting us to go up. Let’s say there’s a 30% chance I think we’ll go up. I went to the UK to see Leeds V Villa at Elland Road in December, what a night that was for me!
Thank you so much Jðhann. It seems Birkir will add some much-needed guile to Villa’s engine room, lets hope he settles in quickly and results start to turn soon or Birkir may soon find himself questioning his rationale and his sanity with regard his move to Villa.
Follow Jóhann on twitter here @johannleeds
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