West Ham United have confirmed the imminent arrival of versatile Norwegian international Havard Nordtveit on a free transfer. The former Arsenal midfielder, who began his career as a talented centre-back and has played as part of a back three this term, will return to English football for the first time in over five years on 1 July following the conclusion of his current contract with Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach.
Nordtveit never managed a single senior appearance during a three-year stay with the Gunners that followed a move from FK Haugesund. Instead he was dispatched for three separate loan spells across Europe – with Salamanca, Lillestrom and FC Nurnberg – before being sold to Gladbach for an undisclosed fee. Arsene Wenger previously described the 25-year-old as a "fantastic character with great quality", yet appeared to sanction his exit due to a distinct lack of first-team opportunities.
There were even suggestions in December 2015 that Arsenal were interested in re-signing the player, with Sky Germany reporting that Everton, Leicester City and Borussia Dortmund were also on his trail. However, West Ham were later said to be finalising a deal of their own and manager Slaven Bilic confirmed that Nordtveit was indeed a target ahead of a busy summer that will see the club move into their new home at the Olympic Stadium.
"It has always been a dream for me to play in the Premier League and now I have a big opportunity to do that for West Ham – I cannot wait to start," Nordtveit, who made 39 appearances this season at Borussia-Park under Lucien Favre and Andre Schubert, told West Ham's official website after his return to the Premier League on a five-year deal was officially confirmed.
"This team has something special, a spirit in the team that I can fit into. I will work hard and hopefully I can get some good moments at this club.
"I'm a player who can play many roles on the pitch, but I'm from Norway so maybe a little bit more running, tackles and try to spread a few balls around me. I'm looking forward to showing what I can do, but hopefully I have something to help West Ham achieve even more."
While Nordtveit's future has been resolved, questions still remain as to the position of his Gladbach teammate Granit Xhaka. The highly rated Swiss midfielder has been heavily linked with Arsenal, who are believed to have submitted a bid worth £33.8m ($48.6m) in the hope of reaching an agreement before Euro 2016. Both players featured for Schubert's side on Saturday (14 May) as they closed the German domestic campaign in fourth place and qualified for the Champions League play-off round following a 2-0 victory away at SV Darmstadt 98.