For the past two years, FC Barcelona Femeni has had a quiet few transfer windows. Aside from some departures, only two players have arrived at the club since January of 2020. The first of which was in the 2019-20 winter window when Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, a Swiss striker/right-back, was signed as a rotation player. The other was sixteen-year-old Brazilian striker Giovana Queiroz, who entered the club in the first-team dynamics but has yet to make her first-team debut with Barcelona.
After winning the continental treble and having two major player departures in the form of Vicky Losada and Kheira Hamraoui, the time has come for Barcelona to seek out some fresh faces from the outside. This Tuesday, the first of those fresh faces was revealed to be none other than Norwegian midfielder Ingrid Syrstad Engen.
Ingrid Engen, who most recently played with German giants VfL Wolfsburg, declined a contract renewal with the club in January of 2021. It was revealed by Wolfsburg's sporting director that Engen wanted more visibility and a new experience in a different country, while still staying close to her friends. Still just 23 years old, Engen has been a key player for both Wolfsburg and the Norway national team for years, making her one of most sought-after free agents in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Kellermann, Wolfsburg's Sporting Director on January 19, 2021:
It is now clear that (Ingrid Engen and Fridolina Rolfö) will not continue. The offers we made were rejected, and we were also made aware that both were ready for other challenges next season. Ingrid has not yet reached the top of her career. We had hoped that she would stay longer with us.
Engen is a box-to-box midfielder but has played as more of a defensive midfielder for both Wolfsburg and Norway. She has a history with Barcelona in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, playing against the Blaugrana with two different clubs- Wolfsburg and Norwegian club LSK Kvinner. This signing will have her joined with Norwegian teammate Caroline Graham Hansen, and she will become the second-ever Norwegian, man or woman, to play with Barcelona.
Engen started her football career locally in the Melhus sports team and Gimse sports team (2012). During her teens, she showed a distinctive football talent and eventually advanced to Toppserien clubs such as Trondheims-Ørn (2014) (now Rosenborg BK Kvinner) and LSK Kvinner (2018). In 2019, she joined VFL Wolfsburg to pursue a more serious career as a professional footballer.
Engen has played for all the youth national teams (U16, U17, U19, and U23 level) with Norway. Her debut for the Norwegian senior team came about in February 2018, when Norway lost 3-4 to Australia in the 2018 Algarve Cup. In qualifying for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, she scored her first senior national team goal against the European champions, Netherlands, which booked her country's place at the tournament. At the World Cup, Engen had a breakout tournament, specifically against Australia in the Round of 16. She dropped a 10/10 performance in regular time against the Aussies and then converted the match-winning penalty to secure Norway's place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Engen mostly plays as a defensive midfielder- controlling the game, reading between the lines, and covering up for the defense by making key interceptions at the right time. She can also operate as a playmaker next to a pivot like Barcelona’s Patri Guijarro and can aid in the press at the high end of the pitch. Engen is not a player who will rely only on her physical strength but also has a great vision which allows her to be effective in terms of pressing and passing. She is a modern midfielder who is good in duels and interceptions, as well as effective in long-range shots.
She has so far played in a 4-2-3-1 system with Wolfsburg and Norway’s national team. Her abilities allowed her to be a good fit in this system since the double-pivot system acts as a second line of defense which helps the team to build from the back. At Barcelona, she would need to fit into a different system, a 4-1-2-3, which she isn’t accustomed to and hasn't played in any time recently.
Engen's height (177cm / 5’10”) not only helps her in winning aerial duels, but it also helps in defending set-pieces, a quality that Barcelona desperately needs in defense. As she has grown older, Engen has become more experienced at escaping from marking during set-pieces, which could be a great addition for Barca who have a knack for scoring goals from set-pieces. Having a player who is so versatile and easily adaptable to different positions is what Barcelona is best suited for. For many things that the club needs, Engen fits the bill perfectly.
If Engen can continue to develop her passing skills as well as her passing accuracy, then there is no doubt that she will be a hit at Barcelona. Barcelona plays more free-flowing football than Wolfsburg or the Norway national team which means Engen will be given the freedom to play as she wants. Overall, Engen is a really good signing for Barcelona, at least on paper, because she is young, talented, and has a lot of room for improvement.
Engen is one of those players who can make up for the distance covered in the game. In the 2020 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final against Lyon, she ran 11.65km, the second-most out of any other player in that match. (UEFA Technical Report from last season)
In a 2020 interview, she said the best player she has ever played with is former Wolfsburg teammate Pernille Harder.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Engen requested Wolfsburg to waive 10% of her salary to instead give to people in need of financial support.