What can Celtic expect from Odin Thiago Holm

Celtic is reportedly on the verge of signing 20-year-old Norwegian midfielder Odin Thiago Holm from Norwegian Eliteserien side Valerenga, despite not yet having a manager in place. The fee for the highly-rated youngster is believed to be around £2.6 million. Holm’s talent and potential have been widely recognized, with him being featured in The Guardian’s ‘Next Generation 2020’ list that showcases the best youth talents in the world.

Described by his manager, Dag-Eilev Fagermo, as the best player in the Eliteserien, Holm has already amassed over 70 first-team appearances for Valerenga. His decision to reject offers from Liverpool, Manchester United, and Juventus in favour of gaining top-team experience rather than playing academy football demonstrates his determination to develop as a player.  A trait also found in fellow Scandinavian Matt O’Riley.

So, what can Celtic expect from Odin Thiago Holm if the transfer goes through?


Comparisons to Odegaard

According to former Celtic forward Harald Brattbakk, Holm is an offensive-minded midfielder with a strong work ethic, drawing comparisons to Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard. However, upon reviewing Holm’s statistics, his playing style appears to resemble that of Callum McGregor or Tomoki Iwata.

In the current 2023 Eliteserien season, Holm’s passing statistics categorize him as a ‘safe passer.’ His pass accuracy is high, but he tends to favour lateral passes over forward and progressive ones. For instance, he has only made an average of 4.75 progressive passes per 90 minutes in his 12 Eliteserien appearances this season, which is lower than David Turnbull’s progressive pass rate of 5.6 per 90 minutes, the lowest among Celtic midfielders last season.

Additionally, Holm has made approximately 11 passes per 90 minutes fewer than any of the current Celtic midfielders, and he has yet to register an assist this season. His expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes stands at 0.51, which is less than half of Tomoki Iwata’s xA during the previous season, highlighting a potential lack of creativity compared to Celtic’s existing midfielders.

However, it’s important to consider that Holm’s more conservative output may be influenced by Valerenga’s direct style of play, which differs from Celtic’s possession-based approach. Valerenga tends to utilise longer passes, averaging around 1.5 passes per possession less than Celtic. Consequently, Holm would require an adjustment period to adapt to Celtic’s style should the transfer materialise.





The next number 6

At Valerenga, Holm typically operates as a number 6 in front of the back four. In this role, he showcases his comfort on the ball and his ability to drive forward, similar to Callum McGregor. He often collects the ball from deep positions and utilises his strong dribbling skills to advance the team through the middle of the park.

Holm’s dribbling success and progressive runs outperform Celtic’s current midfielders, a trait that could prove particularly useful in European games where his ability to drive the team forward would become a significant asset.

Standing at 180cm (5ft9inches), Holm would be the third tallest midfielder in the squad behind Matt O’Riley (187cm) and David Turnbull (185cm), highlighting a physical deficiency in the midfield area that needs to be addressed.  As has been discussed on ACSOM and elsewhere, Celtic needs to add more physicality and athleticism to the midfield if the club is to make inroads in European competition.

Defensive screen

Despite not immediately fitting the profile of the physical midfielder Celtic requires, Holm’s statistics indicate his potential as a defensive screen in front of the defence. His rate of interceptions matches that of Tomoki Iwata, Celtic’s most effective defensive midfielder, at 4.4 interceptions per 90 minutes, highlighting his ability to read the game and break up play.

At only 20 years old, Holm is a promising talent with considerable potential. While he may not be the finished article yet, his statistics and praise from fellow professionals indicate that he possesses the attributes of a talented all-round midfielder with a high ceiling for growth.

Considering the potential departures of Matt O’Riley, Reo Hatate, and David Turnbull from Celtic during the summer, Holm’s £2.6 million investment appears to be a wise move. However, Celtic should not solely rely on him to fill the void of an imposing physical midfielder, and they should pursue additional midfield options in the transfer window.

Odin Thiago Holm is a young and promising midfielder who would add strong all-around midfield qualities to the midfield.   A period of adjustment to Celtic’s playing style may be necessary, but the acquisition of one of Scandinavia’s most talented prospects for £2.6 million seems like a prudent move for the club.

Kevin McCluskie

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