IBWM Staff1 Comment


IBWM Staff1 Comment
ante vukusic.jpg

Ante Vukušić     21     Striker     Pescara

A transfer to the ancient environs of the Adriatic coastal city of Pescara was hardly fitting of the trajectory of Ante Vukušić's career. But the move into the Italian top flight with the Serie B champions took place in the same month as his international debut for Croatia, making August a landmark month for the striker. He was also named by Igor Stimac for the Croatians' World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium.

While a switch from the Croatian league to Serie A is undoubtedly a big upwards step, Vukušić could have been forgiven for hoping a more glamourous club might have taken a gamble on him. His goalscoring record at former club Hajduk Split was exceptional. He joined the club towards the end of his youth career and made a name for himself in short order.

After debuting in April 2009 he went on to score six goals in 22 league games the following season and was the club's top scorer in 2010/11 and 2011/12. With 14 goals in 29 games followed by 12 in 24, Vukušić fired his way to the attentions of scouts at Arsenal and Fulham, as well as Chelsea's then assistant manager Michael Emenalo.

In addition to a fine record domestically, Vukušić has a good deal of European experience for a player of his age thanks to Hajduk's three consecutive qualifications for the Europa League, successes in which the young striker had a big hand. It was in this year's competition that Vukušić earned his spurs against Italian opposition.

After he scored the crucial first goal to help Hajduk towards an aggregate win over Skonto Riga, the Croatian outfit went on to face Milan giants Internazionale. They ultimately fell short thanks to a 3-0 defeat on home soil, but his coolly taken penalty at San Siro capped an exceptional individual performance in a 2-0 win. Performances of that nature on such a stage were bound to earn Vukušić a move, and Hajduk must now get used to life without their young star - after making his debut at 17, he was the club captain by 20. For a man of small stature, he's left a rather large hole.

Pescara's status as his intermittent use by Dolphins coach Giovanni Stroppa. The Croatian is just one of several youngsters in Pescara's attacking corps, headed up by 19-year-old Gianluca Caprani, and will need time to settle in properly and make his mark. He certainly hasn't lost his youthful mojo: he scored three times in his five games this season for Hajduk.

The goals will surely follow in Italy, because Vukušić is a natural in front of goal. Around the edge of the penalty area he has a powerful shot that is more a manifestation of a desire to shoot early than to produce the spectacular. In the box he is an instinctive finisher, composed under pressure and capable of an exciting improvised finish when required, as evidenced more than a few times in his days in Croatia.

But what makes Vukušić a thrill to watch more than his finishing is his movement. He often benefits from making the brightest run, his awareness and football smarts giving him the advantage either in the area or with a ball over the top. Much of the rest needs polishing, but that will come in time and with experience. For now, the main objective for the young Croat has to be to ease his way into the Serie A goalscoring charts and strengthen the attentions of his national team coach.

"He began the season as a starter and was dropped to the bench when he didn't produce, but the only forward that's had more than one goal is Vladimir Weiss, and he's able to create goals from nowhere. Vukušić needs better support around him before we're able to really judge his talent." - Kirsten Schlewitz (SBNation)

C-     Adjusting to life abroad

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