A new wave of Croatian footballers are on the horizon. Top-tier clubs are snatching the youngest Prva Liga talents left and right, solidifying the claim that the next generation of Croatian footballers will be the best yet. The Vatreni have always lacked depth, allowing just a few injuries to be problematic during a tournament run. Now that small clubs such as Gorica and Istra are producing their fair share of talent, Croatia should have nothing to worry about in the next decade.
Luka Sučić, one of Croatia’s highest rated talents, recently began getting starts for Red Bull Salzburg’s first team. The 18 year-old wreaked havoc against Bayern Munich in his Champions League debut, nearly scoring and providing a hockey assist against the reigning European champions. His magnificent Youth Champions League campaign caught the eyes of AC Milan and Juventus. AC Milan have become the front runner for Sučić, and have shown more interest in the young midfielder following his first games for Salzburg. Speaking of Salzburg, the Austrian club recently purchased 16 year-old Rocco Žiković from Istra for €2.5M – a club record fee for the Zeleno-Žuti. The young center-back stands at 186 centimeters tall and has two goals in two appearances for the U-17 national team. His story resembles Dominik Oroz – a former Salzburg product now playing for Vitesse. Oroz, 20 years of age, made his Eredivisie debut on January 12th, coming off the bench to seal a 1-0 victory over Utrecht.
HNK Gorica has had a shocking start to the Prva Liga season. Dario Špikić has led Gorica’s front line from the left wing position, and recently scored and assisted twice in his club’s 4-3 defeat against Dinamo Zagreb. The 21 year-old’s breakout season has caught the eyes of Atalanta and Lazio. Špikić’s height and strength suits him perfectly for the Serie A, along with his magnificent goal scoring ability from the wing. Špikić is not the only Gorica attacker expected to leave to the Serie A this winter. Kristijan Lovrić, Gorica’s 25 year-old target man, is expected to sign with Bologna in the coming weeks. Lovrić has 12 goals and 3 assists in 14 starts for Gorica this season.
Dario Špikić is not the only Croatian that Lazio is eyeing down as Domagoj Bradarić has caught the eyes of the Italian giants with his magnificent speed and skill. The left wing-back has been consistent for Lille this season, occasionally providing an assist as the club fights for the league title.
Croatians, as expected, will continue to play for Europe’s top clubs. But the real question is, can they succeed? With the talent that Croatia is producing at the moment, it would only take 25% of the players to find success in order for another great tournament run to take place int he upcoming decade.