Ladislav Krejcí 21 Midfielder Sparta Prague Czech Republic
2013 has been…
Chelsea’s drop into the Europa League in 2012/13 brought the Blues a second consecutive European trophy. On the way they had to dig deep to defeat Sparta Praha, a team blessed with a young home-grown player who attracted serious interest from PSV Eindhoven at the age of 17. Ladislav Krejcí never made that move to the Netherlands, and has been making a name for himself in his native Prague instead.
Sparta are the best team in the Czech Republic right now and Krejcí is a regular, starting more or less every game (and being substituted in a fair few of them) on the left side of midfield. He is a fine wing all-rounder, working hard to track back and offer excellent protection to the full back in addition to his attacking work.
When Sparta have the ball, he is effectively a wide striker, playing high and hugging the touchline to allow himself plenty of space in behind the right back. He’s a scruffy runner but he’s full of energy and is always on the move, his deceptive pace most frequently in evidence off the ball when Sparta are on the break.
Krejcí isn’t the best at keeping possession because his passing is raw and needs work. Simple passes aren’t always selected or executed well, but his eye is good and the assuredness will follow in the next few years as he grows into his game. He does have a good final ball in his arsenal, however, and his crossing from the left is viciously dangerous and quite consistent. As a result, he is a constant threat.
It’s clear what Krejcí brings to the field for Sparta and coach Vítězslav Lavička. He’s an intelligent player who gives his all, has a little bit of a spark and crosses brilliantly. He’s a long way off the finished article, however, and the rough edges are there for all to see in his passing and shooting in particular. There’s nothing problematic in his offering that cannot be improved over time.
After being a regular for the Under-19s and winning five Under-21 caps, Krejcí made his senior Czech Republic debut in November 2012 and scored his first international goal in February after just three minutes of his second cap against Turkey. He has been used sparingly at international level, making only a handful of appearances over the last twelve months, usually in friendlies.
With Sparta top of the Gambrinus Liga as the winter approaches, Krejcí’s immediate target has to be helping his side win the league title. But a more regular place in the Czech Republic national team must be his ultimate aim for 2014. Having taken his first few steps in late 2012 and 2013, the Sparta midfielder will want to be in possession of a shirt when qualifying for the European Championships begins.
If Sparta can reach the Champions League and Krejcí can shine there, the fact that he signed a five-year deal in November 2012 might mean that someone pays a hefty fee for his services. To ensure that, he needs to add more goals to his game. He’s certainly capable and looks as if he has the potential to become a more rounded and accomplished finisher. He takes a mean free kick too, so three or four goals a season with a dead ball should become the minimum.
Krejcí isn’t going to be a world-beater, but he is certain to mature into a solid, reliable player for a team that enjoys regular European competition and bases its successes on hard work or counter-attacks.
"A very competent and able player with plenty of talent. Whilst important for club, he's not exactly rocketing through European football, but has the air of a real slow burner. France 2016 beware." - Jeff Livingstone, IBWM
"It's clear he's going through some growing pains. An attempt to bulk him up, coupled with a dislocated shoulder at the beginning of last season clearly has hampered his progression. But with those issues behind him, a certain spring in his step has returned. Four goals this term from out wide and a deserved re-introduction to the national side is setting him up nicely for the future." - Chris Boothroyd, The Czech Cup
C Steady progress for a solid player in the making