Ŝime Vrsaljko 20 Defender/Midfielder Dinamo Zagreb
Enterprising. That’s a really good word. It’s not ‘graceful’, ‘thrusting’ or ‘flamboyant’, but by the same token it’s not ‘erratic’, ‘inconsistent’ or ‘wayward’.
The reason we are focussing on the word ‘enterprising’ is because it sums up Ŝime Vrsaljko nicely. A consistent performer, but someone who is able to maximise their ability, a clever player that can cause a lot of damage with seemingly little effort. That sounds just about perfect.
Born in the same town as Luka Modric, Vrsaljko is also a product of the Dinamo Zagreb youth academy. While technique is a very big part of his game, comparisons with the former Spurs’ midfielder stop there; Vrsaljko is a very different type of player.
Farmed out to Lokomotiva as a teenager to gain first team experience, Vrsaljko didn’t take long to make something of a name for himself in Croatian football. Equally at home anywhere on the right hand side of a football pitch, but can also canny enough to cover the left too, he is a much more defensive player than the surging Modric. But that doesn’t mean Vrsaljko can’t torment defences in an attacking capacity if need be. We’ve watched him play regularly for the blues and have enjoyed witnessing a player put in a strong shift as an ultra-defensive full back on both flanks. Tucking in when necessary and showing a very mature mind set for such a young player, Vrsaljko has the technical ability and tactical nous to know when to do certain things. On other occasions, Dinamo have allowed Vrsaljko to remove the hand break and he’s been equally good to watch as a proper right sided midfielder, and on some occasions as a marauding wing back. More than once we’ve seen some neat forward passing and a few wicked deliveries.
Aged 20, Vrsaljko is something of a veteran at Dinamo with more than 100 appearances for the club since making his debut in early 2010. International recognition has been gained too with four full caps for Croatia in the bag and a promise of many more to come.
It’s not difficult to see why Vrsaljko has been tracked by some of Europe’s leading clubs for a long time too. As you can tell, this is a hugely versatile operator, someone that can perform very well in a number of roles - just the sort of player that fetches a high price in today’s market. Inter have retained a long standing interest, but Marseille, Manchester City, Arsenal and Valencia have all been credited with monitoring, or in some cases making an offer for, the young Croat. And they are just the ones that we know about.
Dinamo have been sensible with their prodigy so far, tying him to a long term contract and for his part Vrsaljko has been wise to avoid the advances of potential suitors. Invariably, he will move on at some point, but we haven’t reached that point just yet and Vrsaljko is clearly enjoying his football in a very good Dinamo side.
At time of writing Dinamo are on course for an eighth successive league triumph and this will furnish Vrsaljko with his fourth consecutive league winners’ medal. For a young player, these must feel like the happiest of times. A key contributor to a good side that wins matches much more often than it loses or draws. Who wouldn’t be happy?
At this stage it’s difficult to find any fault with Ŝime Vrsaljko or his development. We see an intelligent, hardworking player with plenty of ability and everything points to a flourishing future. There have been one or two injuries over more recent times, but nothing that looks to have dented confidence.
We might have liked to see more in the way of advanced positioning, and maybe a few more goals, but Vrsaljko seems more than content to do a job for his team and tactical instructions are carried out to the letter. The big question really is with regard to which coach takes Šime Vrsaljko under his wing next. They’ll be gaining a good player.
"Still yet to cement his place in Dinamo's side this season, thanks to the presence of Domagoj Vida. Remains a hugely exciting attacking full back, whose delivery from the flank can be fruitful." - Domm Norris (Slavic Football Union)
C+ Continues to maximise everything he has, a long and distinguished career beckons