Huddersfield have signed youngster Sondre Tronstad from IK Start.
They paid the Norwegian club a nominal compensation fee for the midfielder, who can be added to a growing list of promising young talent at the John Smith’s stadium.
Tronstad, who has represented Norway at youth level, has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the West Yorkshire club.
Boss Mark Robins said of the transfer: “Sondre is only 18 years old and we believe can develop further with us.
“He has a real desire to learn and do well and we’re excited about working with him over the coming weeks and months.”
With an average squad age of 24, Huddersfield have a clear policy for developing youth and taking a chance on hungry, unproven players. The club seems to be learning lessons about the importance of financial sustainability, from 15 years ago.
In 1998 with the backing of local businessman Barry Rubery, the club invested serious sums of money in an effort to get into the Premier League.
After three attempts it did not work out and due to financial problems, the club suffered two quick relegations into the Football League’s basement division.
Since then however, they have gradually recovered. Thanks largely to the work of manager Peter Jackson, Huddersfield managed to get into the third tier and consolidate after coming out of administration.
In 2012, the club finally achieved promotion back into the second tier under Simon Grayson, after an 11-year-wait.
Having been a lifelong supporter of Huddersfield, chairman Dean Hoyle is keen to ensure they spend sensibly in the transfer market and do not make the same mistake twice.
A fine example of the club’s self-sufficiency is 23-year-old goalkeeper Alex Smithies, who had been involved with the youth setup since 2000, and is now their first choice between the sticks.
Smithies is one of six members of Huddersfield’s first team squad who came through the academy. The squad has a total value of less than £5 million, funded alone by the recent £8 million sale of Jordan Rhodes.
Robins has not exactly been forced to wheel and deal entirely with free agents and loans, but the club have gone about their business shrewdly. It might seem a relatively expensive buy on the face of it, but £1.3 million signing of Bradford’s Nahki Wells is a very well calculated risk.
It proves that Dean Hoyle is willing to invest in the squad when the right player becomes available, but not without long-term planning.
Wells has a fantastic goalscoring record in the lower leagues, and he is only twenty-three. If things have gone well in two years’ time, not only will the club have benefitted from his performances, a host of Premier League clubs could be prepared to pay several times the amount of money Huddersfield initially paid.
His value can potentially increase tenfold, given the constant inflation of prices in football, and the fact that strikers are a highly-valued commodity. Of course there is a possibility that Wells picks up a long-term injury or does not progress for another reason, and that is the risk. But on balance, it is one well worth taking.
Huddersfield have developed a knack of picking up young players who have shown potential, but perhaps had not been entrusted at other clubs.
Noticeably, a large proportion of their players had previously represented their country at youth level. This is a wise strategy from the club. It allows them to pick up players with defined talent relatively cheaply, due to the fact that they had not been developed to their full potential, in the first few years of their professional career.
We have seen the likes of Oliver Norwood and James Vaughan not quite make the grade at Manchester United and Everton respectively, but they have played the best football of their career so far at Huddersfield.
Terriers fans are enjoying an attractive brand of football at the John Smith’s stadium. Mark Robins has introduced a flexible tactical system of 3-5-2, which is growing in popularity after the success of Hull and Watford using that formation last season.
Adam Hammill had been signed by Mark Robins, they are re-united after their time together at Barnsley.
Hammill, a natural winger who had not been given much of a chance at Wolves, has impressed in his wing-back role. Despite often having extra defensive responsibility with no full-back playing behind him, he is the second highest assister in the Championship so far, creating nine goals.
The one thing Huddersfield need now, is a sense of stability. Including caretaker bosses, the club have had nine different managers in the last six years, although it would be unfair to argue that the lack of stability is a reflection on Hoyle’s approach as a chairman.
Only two of them – Lee Clark and Simon Grayson – have been full-time managers sacked by the board. More time to consolidate under one manager is one thing that would need to change for the club to progress further.
If that can change, Huddersfield Town have a bright future ahead.