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Rise of Die Wikinger: Part IV — Out with the Old, In with the Viking

The summer of 2022 would be one Sliasthorp’s fans would remember forever, as Björn Ironside undertook what can only be classified as a culling of the squad that helped hoist the club from 2.Bundesliga into Germany’s top-tier, and replaced them with his own men.

Some of his men, who had been loyal to him until now, protested, but the Swedish manager remained unmoved, as he got rid of 12 first-team players and brought in 15 purebred Vikings into his ranks.

Sonny Kittel, who had been instrumental to their promotion and title success, was unceremoniously dumped at FC RB Salzburg for £1.5m, while Moritz Heyer and Jonas Meffert both ended up at Fortuna Düsseldorf for a combined £2.6m.

Robert Glatzel, their towering battering ram, went to Stuttgart for £4m, and the likes of Sebastian Schonlau (£2.5m to Antwerp), Jonas David (£2m to Hannover 96) and Stephan Ambrosius (£1m to SCP07) also followed him out of the club.

The biggest fees, however, came from the sales of Ludovit Reis to Young Boys in Switzerland for £5m, while VfL Wolfsburg decided that spending £12.5m on Tim Leibold was what they needed that summer, which led Björn to personally drive the left-back to the Lower Saxony town to see him off and ensure he got the money in his coffers.

All in all, a grand total of £32m entered the club’s balance, which, added to the club’s small budget, allowed their manager to gather scout reports of as many Norwegians, Swedes, Icelanders, Finns and Danes as possible and replace his now departed warriors.

First through the door was new goalkeeper Jacob Rinne from AaB, who had pre-agreed a contract with Sliasthorp in the final six months of his time in Denmark and was an upgrade on what the club already had, which would be needed for what lied ahead.

Then, new wingers Alex Timosi Andersson (£800k from FC Bayern II) and Valgeir Valgeirsson (£76k from HK) came in to add depth to the wide positions, but those were the last “cheap” deals Björn would do.

Everything beyond that would be fees of over £1m, as Jacob Sørensen was saved from Norwich City’s transfer list in exchange for £2.1m, coming in to provide much needed versatility at centre-back, in defensive midfield and in central midfield if needed, while Olav Veum was bought from Stabæk for an initial £4.5m, with bonuses taking the fee to £6.5m, to start alongside Nilsson in the heart of the defence.

The departure of Glatzel meant new strikers were required, which is why FC Groningen’s Jørgen Strand Larsen was bought for £5m as the starter, while IFK Göteborg’s Oscar Vilhelmsson was signed as his backup.

A deal was also struck in the striker role with an eye on the future, as, learning of the prowess of Erling Braut Haaland at Borussia Dortmund, Björn decided to bring some of that bloodline to his own club by snapping up his cousin, Albert Braut Tjåland from Molde for £600k.

The plan was for the 18-year-old to first play for the Sliasthorp U19s before a new evaluation would be made at the end of the campaign to see if he had what it took to have a role at the club going forward or if a loan was needed to get him the required game time.

Then came the task of replacing Tim Leibold, and so Björn went after left-backs, for which both John Kitolano from Odd (£1.5m) and Daniel Svensson from FC Nordsjælland (£2.8m) were purchased.

As he approached the backend of the transfer window, it was still very clear the midfield still needed some depth, and so Odd were given another £4m for Filip Rønningen Jørgensen, Brentford received £1.6m for Mads Bidstrup, while Magnus Kofod earned FC Nordsjælland another £5.5m from Sliasthorp’s war chest.

At this point, only one position was left to be filled, and that was the left wing, with Brynhildsen needing a backup, and so Jeppe Okkels was bought for £2m from IF Elfsborg, with this deal, at least in Ironside’s mind, marking the end of Sliasthorp’s business.

However, transfer deadline day can present opportunities few imagined possible at the start of the window.

Early on in the process of rebuilding his squad, Björn had created a shortlist of players he desired, ensuring that any news about them reached him at once, and he placed Andreas Schjelderup right at the top.

An initial enquiry with FC Nordsjælland made it clear he wasn’t for sale, with a price of over £60m being quoted to Sliasthorp, who reluctantly backed away.

But then, on August 31st, rumours emerged of VfB Stuttgart making a £7.5m bid for Schjelderup started to circulate, and so Björn immediately sent an £8m offer, which the Danish club accepted.

Money was thrown at the player to ensure he signed, as he was given a squad leading £33k/week, which proved enough to convince him that a move to Sliasthorp was the right one for him.

And thus concluded the now famed summer of 2022, with just over £40m spent on new players that would hopefully keep Sliasthorp up in their first season back in Bundesliga.

How did they fare, we hear you ask? That, my friends, is a saga for another day…

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