Wow! Who saw that coming? Talented young winger Stipe Biuk, age 20, joins LAFC in the MLS on a permanent deal for a €6.5m fee, up to €1.5m in bonuses, and 20% of future fee.
Biuk impressed the moment he got called up to the Hajduk Split first team in the 2020/21 season, posting 3 goals and 3 assists in just 8 matches as an 18 year old. Ever since, Biuk has hit a plateau, producing just 3 goals and 5 assists in 47 appearances.
Biuk is still touted as one of Croatia’s finest attacking talents, despite this dip in form. His deceptive dribbling, quick acceleration, and flair, display his elite level of natural talent, but his inability to adapt to tough-nosed defenses, poor decision making, and inconsistency (or perhaps lack of motivation?) all raise serious question marks in his ability to one day become a National Team level winger.
This move is certainly a surprising one. The MLS is known as a “retirement league” and doesn’t always provide the best development for young players. However, talents like Alphonso Davies, Brenden Aaronson and Thiago Almada prove to be rare exceptions. Personally, I believe a move was imminent for Biuk regardless, but I would have rather seen him in a European league. Perhaps Ante Razov will help accommodate him in LA? Maybe he breaks through and flourishes against weaker defenses in the MLS? But wouldn’t this all prove pointless if he were to return to his bad habits and exploit shaky defenses with his raw talent and natural ability, just to return to Europe in a few years time and face stronger, more structured defenses and STILL not know what to do? Only time will tell…
A positive here is the exposure young Biuk could receive by playing in the MLS. If he shines, he will surely get a lot of American media attention, which could prove beneficial for a future big money move.
Another thing to note is the abundance of attackers already present in the LAFC squad. With Bale, Vela, Bouanga and Tello, it isn’t even a guarantee that he actually gets minutes in the MLS.
What are your thoughts on the move? Is Biuk just trying to cash in because he lacks ambition career-wise? Or is this possibly an intelligent move from the young winger and his agent as he joins fellow Croat coach Ante Razov?