Scout Report: Ante Palaversa – Croatia’s successor to Luka Modric?
The youngster has made eyeballs turn with his impressive performances since he was promoted to the senior team at the start of the 2018-19 season, scoring twice in 17 appearances for the league’s 6th-placed team.
Palaversa is yet to earn his debut for Croatia at the senior international level but he already has the experience of captaining the U19 side, scoring thrice in 11 appearances.
As Manchester City close in on a deal to take away yet another prodigy from the famous Hajduk Split academy, let us take a closer look at one of the rising stars of Croatian football- Ante Palaversa.
Born in Split, Croatia, Palaversa, joined the Handful Split academy as a kid and made rapid progress through the youth levels, winning the award for the Best Player of the Youth League at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Palaversa was promoted to the reserve team and after playing regularly for the reserves in the second division, he was called up to the first team in June 2018. The 18-year-old made his debut in a Europa League playoff game against Slavia Sofia and he hasn’t looked back since then, establishing himself as a first-team regular for his boyhood club.
Style of Play
A tactically versatile and technically gifted central midfielder, Palaversa is capable of playing in central, holding and box-to-box roles in the middle of the park. A sine qua non for any holding midfielder, the 18-year-old has a wonderful range of passing, which is probably the greatest asset in his repertoire.
He is not only very comfortable with the ball at his feet but he also knows how to dictate the tempo of the game by keeping the ball moving in the middle of the park. However, he is not someone like Jorginho who simply passes the ball around.
Palaversa has already shown the intelligence and the vision to switch the play and change the focal point of the attack with accurate long passes, including cross-field lobs and diagonals. In fact, the Croatian prodigy has shown the raw makings of a wonderful deep-lying playmaker, exhibiting the rare ability to take five or six opposition players out of the game with a single pass.
He is a player with tenacity, drive and determination, winning the ball back with tackles and interceptions and carrying it forward with pace.
In other words, he is someone who establishes the vital link between the defence, midfield and attack. Furthermore, Palaversa is known for his wonderful long-range efforts, showing a good technique to find the net with volleys from outside the box.
What does the future?
When Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic hang up their boots in the next three or four years, they can do it with a sigh of relief because Palaversa is the perfect man to carry the legacy of the Croatian national team forward. To conclude, Palaversa has shown that he is a perfect blend of Modric and Rakitic and there is a likelihood that he will be the base of Croatia’s new golden era.
Read More:- Who is this England U21 international on Liverpool’s radar? The ideal replacement for Alberto Moreno?
The 18-year-old has shown enough promise at Hajduk Split to attract the big boys of Europe. With Manchester City closing in on a deal, the future definitely looks bright for the youngster provided he continues his development down the right path.
Opinion: Man City’s recent dominance would continue but only if they get their transfer plans right in the near future
Man City Opinion: The Citizens have to bring in marquee signings to replace their ageing stars
It is beyond doubt that Manchester City have been the most successful club in the Premier League over the last decade or so, with the Citizens establishing themselves as one of the new superpowers in English football.
City’s unparalleled dominance in recent years has seen them get their hands on all possible silverware in England, although the UEFA Champions League is one tournament which the Citizens are yet to conquer.
It all began with City winning the FA Cup title back in the 2010-11 season when Roberto Mancini’s side beat Stoke City 1-0 to lift the trophy.
That proved to be the beginning of a new era for the Citizens following their days of mid-table obscurity in the top-flight. Eventually, the club beat local rivals Manchester United to claim the Premier League title on goal difference in the 2011-12 campaign.
City went on to lift the Premier League trophy once again in the 2013-14 season under Manuel Pellegrini before Pep Guardiola’s arrival in 2016 propelled the club to even greater heights.
All in all, the Citizens have won 4 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, 4 League Cups and 2 Community Shields over the course of the last nine seasons, statistics which are a clear testament to the kind of dominance they have established in English football.
Taking a look back at the previous season, Liverpool gave defending champions City a real run for their money but in the end, the Citizens just seemed to have that little bit of luck on their side.
There were times in the season, particularly back in December, when City stumbled badly with a few lacklustre performances, but Guardiola ensured that his side had the last laugh in the title race.
City completed the domestic treble last season and reached the pinnacle of their newly-found success in English football. The Citizens’ dominance under the charismatic stewardship of Guardiola once again reigned supreme, but the question is – how much longer will Man City be able to sustain such a level of dominance?
Undoubtedly, City have set some really high standards, not only for themselves but also for the other teams to try and emulate.
They scored as many as 106 goals in their victorious 2017-18 season and accumulated 100 points in the process followed by 95 goals and 98 points in the 2018-19 campaign. No team other than Liverpool has been able to get anywhere close to those numbers.
Man City have been amongst the biggest spending teams in the Premier League over the last ten years, yet, realistically, their success in recent times hasn’t been based merely on their financial muscle.
It is true that the Citizens have brought in some top-quality players over the years but a settled hierarchy and a solid platform laid down by the likes of Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola has been instrumental in transforming the club’s fortunes.
Despite that, however, City have largely adopted a measured approach in the transfer window, with the Citizens always looking to invest in bright emerging prospects as a part of their long-term plans, hardly ever paying more than what they deem as the perfect value for a player.
The likes of Fernandinho, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany all came through the door at the Etihad at a very young age and have gone to establish themselves as stalwarts in Europe.
In recent times, City have brought in the likes of Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker, just to name a few, and almost all of them have established themselves as mainstays of the first-team.
City have been very shrewd and diplomatic with their recruitment policy but one can get the feeling that the Citizens need another spending spree in the next 2-3 transfer windows if they are really serious about continuing their dominance.
Vincent Kompany’s departure has already left a massive void at the back for the Citizens, and with Nicolas Otamendi linked (h/t Sun) with an exit too, the Premier League champions have plenty to think about as far as their defensive options are concerned.
Aymeric Laporte has matured into a top-quality centre-back but John Stones isn’t the most reliable or consistent of heads at the back, meaning City need to bring in another bright emerging prospect to groom into the next ‘Vincent Kompany’.
Also, the likes of Fernandinho, 34, and David Silva, 33, are about to enter the final 12 months of their current contracts and it is unlikely that City would retain their services beyond 2020.
Both the aforementioned players have been amongst the architects of the club’s success over the years and bringing in like-to-like replacements would cost City a fortune in the market.
To add to that, Ilkay Gundogan, who has been another key player for them in the middle of the park over the past couple of campaigns, is also in the final year of his contract.
Given that the German has so far refused to put pen to paper on fresh terms, the Citizens can start looking for alternatives.
Last but not the least, City need to find the perfect long-term successor to the throne of Sergio Aguero, the man who has been an indispensable presence for them in front of goal over a good part of the last decade.
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Suffice to say, Man City have plenty of problems to sort out in more than one area of the pitch, and they do not have too much time on their side.
Thus, the Citizens have to create a couple of busy transfer windows marked by some big-money arrivals if they are really looking to continue setting those high standards.
Man City signing this seasoned La Liga ace for free would allow Guardiola to send this talented first-team star on loan
Man City Opinion: Asier Riesgo’s arrival at the Etihad would allow Muric to go out on loan to Nottingham Forest
According to The Sun, reigning Premier League champions, Man City are lining up a shock swoop for Eibar shot-stopper Asier Riesgo in the summer transfer window, with reports claiming that manager Pep Guardiola is looking for an experienced understudy to undisputed first-choice Ederson Moraes.
Riesgo, who is out of contract this summer, is available for free and The Sun understands that City have identified him as someone who could possibly provide cover for Ederson and Claudio Bravo.
Also, the Citizens are looking to arrange a loan deal for talented youngster Arijanet Muric in order to give him more first-team exposure, with Championship promotion-hopefuls Nottingham Forest interested in securing the services of the 20-year-old Kosovan. (h/t Sun)
Muric, who was initially loaned out to Dutch outfit NAC Breda last summer, had to be recalled due to a long-term injury to No.2 Claudio Bravo. Muric acted as the understudy to Ederson in the Premier League on a regular basis this past season, whilst also featuring prominently in City’s triumphant League Cup campaign.
The talented shot-stopper earned rave reviews for his penalty-shootout heroics in City’s quarter-final victory over Leicester City in the League Cup but reports suggest that Guardiola wants him to gain more first-team experience in the Championship.
Claudio Bravo is expected to be fit right from the start of the upcoming campaign but the Citizens could find themselves back to square one should the veteran Chilean be sidelined once again with injury issues.
Keeping that in mind, bringing in an experienced shot-stopper like Asier Riesgo for free could work wonders for City. Riesgo might be a little-known entity to the fans who do not follow Spanish football but the 35-year-old is regarded as a seasoned campaigner in his homeland, having spent the 18 years as a professional in the La Liga.
Riesgo made a total of 16 appearances for Eibar in all competitions last season, 14 of which came as starts in the La Liga.
A youth product of Real Sociedad, the hugely experienced former Spanish U-21 international made a total of 130 appearances for his boyhood club over the source of 8 seasons, also spending time on loan at fellow La Liga club Recreativo Huelva in the process.
Following a brief stint at Osasuna, Riesgo joined Eibar back in 2015 and has made a total of 69 appearances for the mid-table side in the Spanish top-flight, managing 17 clean sheets in the process. However, with Man City now weighing up a swoop for him, the prospect of a move away from his homeland for the first time in his career might as well appeal to the player.
To put things into perspective, Man City continue to be linked with some of the top players in Europe, as the Citizens look to try and make it a hat-trick of triumphs in the Premier League next season. Riesgo doesn’t need to be a world-beater to arrive at the Etihad because he would only be an understudy to the likes of Bravo and Ederson.
However, the 35-year-old could add a lot of experienced cover in the goalkeeping department for Guardiola, given his exploits in the La Liga over the course of almost two decades.
And snapping him up for free could prove to be a shrewd piece of business for the club, considering that it would open the door for a promising youngster like Muric to leave on loan and further his development in the Championship.
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Even though City have stamped their authority in the Premier League over the past few campaigns, Guardiola is likely to aware of the need to bring in some fresh blood in order to replace ageing stars like Fernandinho and David Silva.
Nevertheless, the acquisition of Asier Riesgo should add much-needed depth in a key area of the pitch for the Citizens.
Man City re-signing this 22-year-old for a paltry £5.35m would ensure solidity in the left-back unit for years to come
Manchester City Opinion: Why Man City must re-sign Angelino from PSV?
According to a report from the Telegraph, Manchester City are planning to bring PSV Eindhoven left-back Angelino back to the club this summer, with the Premier League champions considering activating his buy-back clause.
Angelino, 22, signed from Deportivo La Coruna’s academy in 2013 and he stayed a Manchester City player for the next five years. Loan spells at New York City, Mallorca, Girona and NAC Breda followed before PSV signed him last summer.
The left-back enjoyed a fantastic season with PSV after having only made one substitute appearance for Pep Guardiola’s City. He played 41 games in all competitions for the Eredivisie giants this season, scoring once and setting up 10 goals for his teammates.
And given Angelino’s performances in the Eredivisie in the 2018/19, City want to trigger a £5.35 million buy-back option as Guardiola wants cover at left-back. However, Paris Saint-Germain are interested in the Spaniard and have offered PSV £22.3million, but City’s deal last summer gives them the first option, the report adds.
Pep Guardiola was planning to raid Leicester City for Ben Chilwell earlier this year due to concerns at left-back. But Oleksandr Zinchenko’s excellent form prompted him to shelve the Chilwell plan for the time being. Then there also is Benjamin Mendy, who has had a rough time with injuries since arriving at the Eithad Stadium from AS Monaco in the summer of 2017.
City spent a lot of money on Mendy after the Frenchman was one of the standout performers in Monaco’s title triumph a couple of years back. After an injury-hit debut campaign, it was another year of injuries for the 24-year-old, which was even more frustrating given how well he started the 2018/19 season.
Regardless of playing a total of 23 times since his arrival from Ligue 1, Guardiola is expected to stick with Mendy for another season. And for having more cover at left-back next season, signing Angelino would be the right move.
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Just like Zinchenko, Angelino can also play in central midfield and on the left-wing, but he started all the 34 league games for PSV at left-back and impressed throughout the campaign. His positioning, work rate and spatial awareness have improved under the tutelage of Mark van Bommel, something which was a concern when the 22-year-old was at City.
There has never been a question regarding Angelino’s attacking qualities and now with a stark improvement to the defensive side of his game in just a season with PSV, Guardiola must re-sign the Spaniard.
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