Isak Hansen-Aaroen scored the fourth goal for Manchester United U18s in a 4-1 win against Sunderland this week.

It was the least he deserved, yet another one-of-a-kind frame in which he ran midfield from start to finish.

The young Norwegian’s injury goal was something special.

He picked up the ball on the edge of the box towards the lower left corner. Then he dropped his shoulder and turned right, switching between three Sunderland players before shooting the ball back into the lower left corner of the net where it was originally looking.

(Photo by John Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

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Hansen-Aaroen missed a few weeks earlier in the year after returning to Norway over Christmas and returning late. The wait for his comeback was worth it.

United’s under-18s have scored 25 goals in the six games he has played since his return.

The team has won 14 out of 15 league games he has played this season.

Without him, the team only won four out of seven and lost three. It quickly became an integral part of the site.

Hansen-Aaroen has scored two goals in his last four games, which shows that he is becoming more confident in the last third and only influencing the game from the depths.

A pleasure to see

Hansen-Aaroen is a player whose joy is a joy. He’s confident in possession, whether he’s shielding the defense in his own third or trying to tear down the opposition on the other end.

He’s always on the lookout for the ball, making a pass and trying to get it back, and anecdotally it seems like he has more contact with the ball than any other player in every game he plays.

He also has a trick in his locker that is able to pirouette neatly on the ball to evade challenges if necessary.

Hansen-Aaroen does not have a high number of assistants or evaluations, but that is not how it should be measured. All you have to do is watch him in action for the under 18s to see how he dominates the games. He’s the one who starts moving away from the depths, bringing the ball up and taking care of the players who cause the damage.

It’s a sublime comparison, but in terms of possession and style, Hansen-Aaroen has an element of Andres Iniesta in his play.

Effortless

The reason Hansen-Aaroen is a joy to see is because he makes football seem so effortless.

His style can best be described as “graceful”. With the way he dribbles past the opponents with the ball on his feet, it looks like he’s sliding and playing in slow motion.

With his bleached blonde hair, Hansen-Aaroen is easy to spot, and yet he always seems to be in space and available for a passport. His movement and intelligence distinguish him.

It’s easy to see why he has played senior football for Tromsø before. The under-18 level looks so simple to him, but at just 16, United has no reason to rush him.

(Photo by John Peters / Manchester United via Getty Images)

Great future ahead

United has spent years tracking down Hansen-Aaroen and it’s easy to see why from early impressions. But he has to continue his development.

Next season he will likely be promoted to the U23. He turns 17 on August 17 and like Shola Shoretire this season, United will be pushing him.

U23 football will be more physically and technically demanding, and yet everything we’ve seen from Hansen-Aaroen so far indicates that he will be able to handle it.

It’s too early to really look beyond that other than to say that if Hansen-Aaroen can shine under 23, team chances may follow.

It may take a couple of years but it looks like the kind of talent United can’t hold back.

Norwegian football is currently blessed with a new generation of talent, from Martin Odegaard to Erling Haaland, and Isak Hansen-Aaroen is a future international who has already represented his country at youth level.

United’s academy is full of young stars, from Hannibal Mejbri to Shola Shoretire to Charlie McNeill.

Hansen-Aaroen is perhaps the most entertaining of all to see, with an all-round quality in his play that suggests he could become the complete midfielder.

We have seen that young players have not yet realized their potential and there are no guarantees for Hansen-Aaroen. But he’s so gifted that it would be a shock if he didn’t enjoy a long and successful career.

Isak Hansen-Aaroen: What you need to know

  1. United agreed to sign Hansen-Aaroen in 2019

    The deal had to wait until he turned 16 in August 2020. United sent Aidan Barlow to Tromso on loan as part of the deal.

  2. He was a wanted player

    United defeated the competition from Everton and Liverpool for the signature of Hansen-Aaroen

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    Hansen-Aaroen made his debut for Tromso’s first team in July 2020. In total, he played seven times as a substitute and supported him in his final appearance.

  4. The change in the creative midfielder is significant

    Hansen-Aaroen is the first Norwegian player to have been signed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since he took over as manager.

  5. International youth

    Hansen-Aaroen is a Norwegian youth international. He has scored three goals in three games for the country’s U16 selection.

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