Hannover 96 have enjoyed plenty of recent success with strikers in the transfer market, including latest acquisition Mame Diouf who shares a quality with several of his new team-mates – they all made their name in Norway.
Didier Ya Konan started the influx in summer 2009, joining from Rosenborg BK, and the Ivorian's 14 Bundesliga goals in his second season helped the German club qualify for this term's UEFA Europa League. By then Hannover had already returned to Norway, capturing Mohammed Abdellaoue from Vålerenga Fotball in 2010, and again the move was a success – the 26-year-old is the team's top league scorer this campaign with 11 goals.
It has not been all plain sailing, however: Ya Konan has laboured to find his best form in 2011/12 while 21-year-old Polish international prospect Artur Sobiech has managed just one top-flight goal since arriving last summer. For those reasons, coach Mirko Slomka re-entered the transfer market in January, signing Manchester United FC's Diouf on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
Although he is a Senegalese international, the 24-year-old has a strong connection to Norway, having landed at Molde FK in 2007. After solid showings in his first two seasons Diouf exploded in 2009, scoring 16 goals in 27 Premier Division starts – including four in 27 minutes against SK Brann. It is now known the forward was already on Hannover's target list, but when United signalled interest the German outfit stood little chance.
"We've been looking at [Diouf] for two years," said Sir Alex Ferguson once the January 2009 switch had been completed. "We weren't intending to sign anyone else but the situation accelerated to a point where other clubs started to make bids, so we decided to act." Diouf nonetheless struggled to settle in England, finding the net once in five Premier League outings for United – all as a substitute – and spending 2010/11 on loan at Blackburn Rovers FC, where he scored three times in 26 league matches. That gave Hannover the chance to finally get their man.
Diouf has been an instant hit with his new employers, registering eight goals in 12 appearances, including three in the UEFA Europa League. One of those efforts, against R. Standard de Liège in the round of 16 first leg in Belgium, made him a fans' favourite as it was scored with partially torn ankle ligaments. "We weren't sure if he was capable of playing on but he signalled to us that he wanted to continue no matter what," said Slomka. General manager Jörg Schmadtke added: "His only job was to get the ball over the line, then he could be substituted. That's what he did."
Since recovering, the Dakar-born player has netted twice in a 4-1 victory over 1. FC Köln and got the winner against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. His goal in last week's 2-1 defeat at Club Atlético de Madrid in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg could also prove particularly valuable.
Diouf is clearly enjoying life at the Hannover Arena, explaining: "It is another atmosphere here, like a family. We greet and hug each other every morning before training. I feel at home, even though my team-mates are teasing me because I don't speak German." For Hannover and Diouf, it seems good things come to those who wait.
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