IK Start director of football Svein Mathisen is urging the Kristiansand-based side's fans to enjoy watching Costa Rican midfielder Cristian Bolaños "while they can", convinced that his form in Norway has not gone unnoticed.
The 25-year-old had an unsuccessful trial at Liverpool FC and failed to get a work permit to play for Charlton Athletic FC before joining Odense BK in Denmark in 2007. He left for Start in the winter, frustrated at a lack of first-team football, and pundits in Norway are now wondering why the Danish side ever let him go, with Bolaños having dazzled all-comers.
A member of the Costa Rica squad at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, Bolaños has scored five goals in eleven league games as Start have kept pace with league leaders Rosenborg BK, Mathisen saying: "My message to the Start fans is that they should enjoy him while they can. If he keeps playing like this and scoring these kinds of goals, bigger clubs will surely want to buy him."
Down and up
Start have not had an easy time since their unexpected runners-up finish in 2005, with an ageing side relegated in 2007. Having regrouped in the first division with a younger crop of players and won promotion, the likes of Bolaños, Erik Mykland, Bård Borgersen and Bernt Hulsker have helped the club to produce some of the most attractive football of the new season.
Coach Knut Tørum is well aware that his side, third in the table, do not have the consistency to compete with Rosenborg, but a European place is not beyond their abilities – especially if Bolaños can be kept in harness. "We have to take each game as it comes," said the coach. "The lads need to be at the top of their game for us to get a top-four finish."