Lukas Spalvis 22 Striker Sporting CP Lithuania
Lithuanian striker Lukas Spalvis emigrated to Switzerland at the age of six and hopped the short distance over the border to play his football. In 2011 he was picked up by SC Freiburg, and then moved into the youth system at Danish Superliga outfit Aalborg a year later. In 2013 he made his senior league debut and quickly set about establishing a reputation as a fine goalscoring prospect.
2016 has been…
A mixed bag. Let’s begin with the good. Spalvis was a regular starter and also a frequent scorer for Aalborg in 2015/16, a season in which he comfortably finished at the top of the goalscoring charts despite ending his season prematurely by getting sent off for a not-headbutt on Esbjerg’s Emil Lyng.
And, after ending 2015 as Lithuanian Footballer of the Year, he made his biggest move yet. In February, Spalvis signed for Sporting CP. Scoring on average a goal every two games through his first 50 games for Aalborg was bound to attract that kind of attention. 14 goals in 17 matches before the winter break was the icing on the cake and Spalvis set sail for Lisbon in the summer.
He also continued his international progress, and now has two goals in twelve caps since making his debut at the age of 19.
As for the bad, well, that’s an injury thing. Spalvis is yet to kick a ball competitively for Sporting; he ruptured a cruciate knee ligament in July and isn’t expected to be available until the new year. He’s also missed the entirety of Lithuania’s World Cup Qualifying campaign to date.
Yet more worrying is the fact that his stellar 2015/16 season was book-ended by absence. In August 2014 he picked up a knee ligament injury for the first time and didn’t play again until the following April.
But Spalvis has a positive attitude and, when he does play, he’s got something. He’s a classic centre forward with a sizeable frame and a deserved reputation for just getting anything on the ball to take it over the line. He scores often from inside the six-yard box, reacting well to rebounds, but he can also finish deftly when required.
He plays on the shoulder and his movement is smart both on the break and in the box, and he’s got a lovely little shimmy in his locker. But there’s no denying he’s raw, or that stepping up from the Superliga is a mighty test. He can snatch at a shot and his hold-up play can go either way. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to like a striker who gets across the front post; that way be goals.
After a year chopped clean in half by injury, Spalvis must manage his recovery smartly. Having been through it before he’s circumspect about what lies ahead, saying he’ll only come back when he’s totally ready. When he does return, getting his feet under the table at Sporting, a club where he says he was quickly made to feel at home, will be top of his agenda.
C- Got the big move but injuries are an issue
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