Hannover 96 have announced the signings of Norwegian midfielder Iver Fossum and Japanese international Hotaru Yamaguchi to help the struggling club during the 2nd half of the season and beyond. Hannover will start the Ruckrunde in 17th place, only a point above last-place Hoffenheim, prompting 96ers Coach Michael Frontzeck to resign a few days ago.
Fossum, 19, has played for Norwegian side Strømsgodset for the last three seasons. He has featured in 72 matches for the 2013 Tippeligaen champions, scoring 16 goals. In the 2015 season just concluded, the 5’11” midfielder scored 11 times in 30 league matches. Fossum has also earned five caps for Norway’s U-21 team. Fossum signed a four and a half-year contract with the north German side, with a transfer fee reported in the 1.5 million euro range. He remarked that “the Bundesliga and Hannover 96 are well known in Norway and I have been following German football and look forward to this new challenge.”
Hannover have done well in the past in signing Norwegian attackers, as Didier Ya Konan scored 39 goals after coming to the 96ers from Rosenberg in 2009 and Mohammed Abdalloue scored 29 times in Bundesliga play for Hannover after transferring from Vålerenga in August, 2010.
Yamaguchi, 25, transfers to Hannover from Japanese club Cerezo Osaka, the club that has produced such Bundesliga players as Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa, former Eintracht Frankfurt man Takashi Inui and Yamaguchi’s new teammate in Hannover, Hiroshi Kiyotake. The Japanese international has represented the Blue Samurai on 20 occasions and featured in more than 175 matches for the Osaka side in all competitions since 2009, scoring 14 goals.
Hannover Chief Executive Martin Bader opined that
We believe that Hotaru Yamaguchi has the qualities to make it in the Bundesliga. Hotaru is a Japan international, who’s been on our radar for a while. We’re delighted we’ve been able to sign him. Having two of his Japan teammates in Hiroshi Kiyotake and Hiroki Sakai here will definitely help him integrate in the first few weeks
Yamaguchi generally has featured in central midfield, but can play on the right wing. The transfer fee paid by Hannover is believed to be 1.5 million euros. Hannover will enter 2016 with three Japanese internationals on their squad, as fullback Gotoku Sakai became a 96er this summer following his transfer from VfB Stuttgart.
Meanwhile, Hannover are still without a coach. Thomas Schaaf, Jens Keller, Jos Luhukay, Markus Gisdol and Holger Stanislawski are believed to be those among consideration, although there are those who would like to see Mirko Slomka re-instated. Under Slomka, Hannover earned European football.
The 96ers will train in Belek, Turkey in January before beginning the Ruckrunde at home against SV Darmstadt 98 on January, 23rd.