20 Striker Dinamo Zagreb Croatia
By June this year Marko Pjaca had really arrived. If the hat-trick against Celtic last December had caused people to start paying attention, six months later they were hooked.
2015 has been…
…exciting, most of the time.
Settled into the international squad, won a domestic double with Dinamo, got to double figures goal-wise for the first time in his career and won both the Young Player of the Year and the Croatian First Football League Player of the Year. He had officially made the leap from “interesting” to top of several team’s scouting lists. Got to be the top mark, no?
Well, there’s a few things that temper what, on paper, looks like an A. Firstly there’s a nagging doubt over where he’s going to spend the most successful years of his career on the pitch. In a front three he can play through the middle but looks far more comfortable on the left, as long as he’s given license to cut inside onto his right foot. He has also played on the right, as a more traditional winger and even behind a central striker. There’s no doubting his preferred position (wide left coming inside) but his versatility is both a blessing to a manager and a curse to his consistency.
There are games that pass him by. As the saying goes, when he’s on, he’s on, but there are other times where he struggles to make an impact. Internationally he’s yet to really take a game by the scruff of the neck and domestically he can drift in and out. There is an enormous talent there but he needs to harness it and make it impossible to move him anywhere else along the line. It will come, this is a proper player, but perhaps a year of development rather than fireworks would serve him better.
There are things in his game that are only going to come with age. He needs more physicality, bravery’s not a problem but being able to go shoulder to shoulder with a defender and win would open up new avenues for him. The consistency needs to come but again, age and experience in a settled position will bring that we’re sure.
There are several big clubs watching and the AC Milan rumours seem to be real. The Champions League provides another showcase but a really tough group has meant little chance to impress. Like we said, this year may be one to learn rather than dazzle.
We may sound like we’ve been overly negative but perhaps that’s only a marker of the talent at hand; the move will come and he will be a really good player we’re certain. We have high standards and when you see a player that genuinely has something a bit special you have to move the bar a bit higher. Keep an eye on him, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
B A brilliant first six months, a quieter second for sure but we have high hopes
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