22 Striker FC København Slovenia
Fizzing right footed left winger/striker who had completed over 120 appearances for hometown club NK Celje in the Slovenian PrvaLiga. Exceptionally fast and notably wiry, Verbič has been –along with Luka Zahovic and Petar Stojanović –one of the real standout young players in his country over the last few years and defences back home will be glad he’s gone.
2015 has been…
Progressive but disrupted. We’re always pleased to see players kick on after making the #IBWM100 and while this often turns out to be the kiss of death for some careers others just seem to go into overdrive. Benjamin Verbič certainly falls into to the latter category and there were times during the second half of the Slovenian season that he threatened to rip the league up entirely.
Goals and assists came in ever more significant numbers as Verbič turned full backs and found space galore against almost every opponent. Although Maribor would go on to clinch the title, Celje secured their highest league placing for twelve years, posting a record points tally for the club in the process. The reason? It’s a team game this, but there’s no doubt who was the star as Verbič scored fifteen and laid on a further eleven goals for colleagues.
A national team call from Srečko Katanec arrived in March and Verbič earned his first cap in a friendly defeat at the hands of Qatar, playing 77 minutes alongside Tim Matavz and Kevin Kampl before being replaced. Within weeks of his international debut, confirmation arrived of the inevitable move with FC København confirming the signing of the winger in late April.
Drafted in to the first team at Copenhagen in late July for the Europa league Qualifiers, Verbič scored on his debut against Newtown and repeated the trick a fortnight later in a 1-0 victory at FK Jablonec. Unfortunately, a red card in the return leg contributed to a 3-2 home defeat which left Løverne out of European competition for the season.
Injury was to follow and twice already this season Verbič has suffered muscle injuries which have set him back just as momentum was being gained; Youssef Toutouh one of the beneficiaries of the available starting slot.
The Danish Superliga is now into its winter break and will not reconvene until February so Verbič will enjoy an enforced rest. The type of strains and pulls suffered by the flying winger are consistent ailments we’ve seen regularly when young players have stepped up a level. The higher intensity of training, pace of matches, changes to diet and the temperature drop he’ll have noticed in Denmark will all have been contributing factors. A chance to acclimatise further will do no harm.
On the positive side, FCK are in top spot and look well placed to secure another title when the league season kicks off again. Verbič has already shown that he has a lot to offer to his new employers and will be closely watched by Ståle Solbakken as he aims to nail down a first team slot. World Cup qualification with Slovenia is not far off too and while Katanec’s side are in a testing group, gaining a spot at Russia 2018 is far from impossible. In the months ahead, both club and country will be looking to unleash the kid from Celje at maximum throttle.
C A disrupted year but little doubt that the best is still to come
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