Manchester United, City, and Arsenal rejects looking to prove a point at Under-21 Championships

Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United fans may just want to take a look at Norway's fortunes in the forthcoming under-21 European Championship.

England's under-21s begin their European Championship bid with their toughest group match against Italy on Wednesday, but the match preceding it could be just as interesting.

Norway will take on hosts Israel in the tournament opener, hoping their young squad can spring an unpopular result with the home fans.

In their squad are three motivated and talented players, keen to seize their opportunities on the big stage after being overlooked by their Premier League clubs.

Each have taken a different path and are at differing stages in their careers, and their performances will intrigue fans of their former and in one case current Premier League sides.

The three are Havard Nordtveit, formerly of Arsenal, Joshua King, formerly of Manchester United, and Abdisalam Ibrahim, expected to be sold by Manchester City this summer.

Nordtveit was a former reserve team captain at Arsenal, playing in defence, and decided he could not risk sitting in the club's reserves or waiting to be released.

He never so much as played a first team game for the club, and was sent on three separate loans in three different countries.

So he was sold for £300,000 to Borussia Moenchengladbach where he has not looked back, developing into a holding midfield player and a regular in the Bundesliga. He is now valued at around £7 million.

Joshua King endured a similarly frustrating time at Manchester United, signed by the club in 2008 and tipped for the very top. The striker was a regular scorer for their reserve and academy sides but failed to find a breakthrough.

He too was loaned out, with Moenchengladbach also taking him on, along with Preston, Hull and Blackburn. 

Rovers eventually paid £1 million to sign him from the Red Devils in January but a season of turmoil at the club and a forward line of Jordan Rhodes and Nuno Gomes has seen him fail to get the chances he would have liked, scoring just twice in 16 Championship appearances.

He too will hope the Championships are a chance to re-invigorate his career and at the very least give him some confidence before heading back to his club.

Abdisalam Ibrahim is a different case, but his career at Manchester City is currently in the midst of how King and Nordtveit saw their spells with Premier League clubs pan out.

The midfielder is on loan in Norway with Stromgodset and accepts he needs to move away from the club next season as he has little prospect of playing in the first team.

He does however intend to make it in the Premier League, and even insists Arsenal are his dream club.

A couple of strong performances against England and Italy, and he will do his chances of a Premier League move no harm at all.

So England should over-estimate the Norwegians at their peril, for what they lack in household names, they make up for in motivation and three of their players especially would love nothing more than to cause an upset.

image: © xoiram42

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