By Chris Harris
"To play at Arsenal, I believe he needs at least one year in the Bundesliga."
That was Arsène Wenger's assessment of Havard Nordtveit when he sent him out on loan to Nurnberg last summer. On the evidence of the Norwegian's performances in pre-season, the manager was dead right.
Nordtveit played 20 times for Nurnberg, helping them win their battle against relegation, and has since returned to put in impressive performances for Arsenal at Barnet and Sturm Graz. Don't be surprised to see the 20-year-old make his mark at Legia Warsaw on Saturday too.
Nordtveit's fledgling career has already taken in spells in Spain, England, Norway and Germany, and he believes that his season-long loan in the Bundesliga has taken his game to a new level.
"To be 20 years old and play in the Bundesliga in Germany was, for me, fantastic," Nordtveit told Arsenal.com.
"I made 20 appearances and I played against the big lads like [Bayern Munich stars] Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
"I played with 82,000 watching. You have pressure on you, you have to win three points, so for me it was a big step, especially mentally.
"You need to be focused and you need to be ready every day, every game. I think it was a big step for me. At the start it was tough, in Germany it is disciplined but I like discipline so there was no problem."
The key for Nordtveit now is to put those lessons into practice in the Premier League. And he thinks the intensity of football in Germany will hold him in good stead now he's back in England.
"The training in Germany was quite hard," he said.
"Mentally it is much easier now after the ten months in Germany, and when I take it into training here you learn even more when you play with even bigger players than in Germany.
"As I say every day is a training day so every day you can learn new things. "
Nordtveit - Bundesliga has improved me
By Chris Harris