The term ” the next big thing” is flaunted around in football too much, with every young player who displays his or her talents to the world and captures the media’s gaze, named as such. In certain countries, the search for the next version of a legend, is such a focus that it has become exhausting to track. The new Zidane has four candidates, the next Maradona had 3 and the next Pele has too many to name. But Norway hasn’t had such luck, struggling to produce young players who rival the likes of John Arne Riise, Thorbjørn Svenssen or Ole Gunnar Solskjær. That was until 16-year-old Zymer Bytyqi burst onto the scene.
Born in Belgium to Kosovan immigrants, Zymer moved to Norway when he was 2 years old, but didn’t start playing until he was 10 which is suprising for a player who looks so natural on the ball. At the age of 14, he was signed by Sandnes Ulf in the Norwegian top flight but due to his age, he was left in the reserve team to develop. He did train with the first team but couldn’t feature in any games due to his tender years. As he continued to develop, he peaked the interest of Newcastle United who saw his potential in an Norway Under 15’s match in September 2011. Despite managing to convince him to travel to St James Park for a week-long trial, they were unable to convince the youngster to sign for them, mostly due to advice given to him by his agent, to stay where he was an learn his trade. However it wasn’t long before the talented striker was thrust into the first team, having turned 16. Manager Asle Andersen was so impressed by him that he was given a professional contract, which lead to him making his first team debut in pre season and eventually scoring his first goal in the 6–0 win against Randaberg later that year.
By now, Bytyqi’s stock was rising at an alarming rate and he justified this was a breathtaking performance for Norway Under 16’s in April 2012 which attracted the attentions of clubs across Europe. Andersen managed to hold onto his talented youngster but knew he would have to sell him later that year, at the end of the Norwegian season. But Bytyqi wanted to focus on this season first and continued his career on by making his league debut as a substitute against Haugesund in May of last year. This made him the league’s youngest ever player to the delight of his coach. But it was only a matter of time before bigger teams came calling and in August of last year, Bytyqi signed a three-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg for a reported fee of only £550,000, then completed his move in January 2013. Some say this is a bargain for such a young player but Sandnes Ulf were unable to resist any longer.
In a recent game between Faroe Islands Under 17’s and Norway Under 17’s, Bytyqi showed to the world exactly why Red Bull Salzburg had snapped up his services. Picking the ball up on the wing, he performed a series of quick step overs, drag backs and ball rolls that bamboozled the helpless opposing defender before eventually nutmegging him and continuing his mazy run into the box before crossing. Zymer certainly has talent and it will be interesting to see how he develops as he matures but for now this raw talent looks like the brightest prospect that Norway has produced in some time.
To see Zymer showcasing his skills, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR2sxyZ-lZc