Defender | RB Salzburg & Marseille | Croatia
These is absolutely nothing skinny about this 6’4” giant. One of football's greatest myths peddles the idea that central defenders ought to be rugged, powerful and physically demanding titans. That is not a truism which should be universally accepted, but there is certainly a basis to the myth.
Donning a substantial physical mass has its advantages for central defenders, and Caleta-Car is blessed with the perceived ideal body type for a player in his position.
But the IBWM staff would like to politely point in the direction of the Croatian’s footballing ability, which is verging on exceptional. A quick glance at Caleta-Car would evoke thoughts of a Tony Pulis mainstay; a brute giant to kick it into row Z; a trustworthy old-fashioned defender who refuses to buy into that modern day nonsense of passing it around from the back, and that.
Looks can be deceiving and Caleta-Car is the embodiment of that slogan. The 22-year-old is seldom flustered in possession and boasts an extensive range of passing, which allows him to play through the lines and complete a 70-yard diagonal with equal precision.
2018 has been…
A year to remember, for the most part. Zlatko Dalic awarded him his first cap for the Croatia national side against Brazil before he received the honour of a World Cup call-up. Caleta-Car was the youngest player in the 23-man squad at the tournament, but that did not prevent him from tasting the action in a 2-1 victory over Iceland in the Group Stage en route to the final.
We feel his World Cup selection was thoroughly deserved after his heroics enabled RB Salzburg to surprisingly reach the semi-final of the Europa League.
If we’d awarded a grade at the end of the World Cup, Caleta Car would be shamelessly flaunting an A grade, but his summer switch to Marseille, who knocked Salzburg out in the semi-final, has taken the wind out of his sails. Just two starts in 16 Ligue 1 fixtures tells you all you need to know about his spell so far - even Rudi Garcia’s to switch to a back-three of late hasn’t facilitated greater involvement for the summer recruit.
Some first-team opportunities, hopefully. Just at the moment when Caleta-Car’s career seemed to have taken flight he has been brought back to earth with a reality-checking bang.
There are dozens of top clubs in Europe who would literally (not literally) kill to have Caleta-Car marshalling the defensive unit, and it’s difficult to escape the feeling that Marseille are mishandling a sensational talent.
The potential is roaring and Caleta-Car represents something of a caged animal in France, waiting to be unleashed into the footballing world and pick up where he left off last season.
Is he willing to be patient in waiting for an opportunity or will he press for a January loan deal? His next move will provide a revealing insight into his mentality.