Why Newcastle should reignite interest in Nikola Vlasic
Vlasic’s stocks had been soaring high last summer after his impressive loan spell at CSKA Moscow in the 2018-19 season, with several clubs expressing an interest as Everton tried to cash in on the playmaker. Newcastle failed to follow up their interest with an official bid and Vlasic eventually ended up completing a permanent move to the Russian heavyweights.
Nikola Vlasic rose through the youth ranks of Hajduk Split in Croatia and made his first-team breakthrough during the 2014-15 season. He eventually established himself as one of the best young attacking midfielders domestically while also catching the eye in European competitions.
The 23-year-old was snapped up by Everton in the summer of 2017 and made a promising start to his career at Goodison Park, scoring twice in the Toffees’ Europa League campaign. However, Vlasic was deemed surplus to requirements after making just 19 appearances following the arrival of Marco Silva.
Vlasic earned widespread plaudits for his performances in the Champions League while on loan at CSKA Moscow. He scored the only goal in a 1-0 home victory over Real Madrid before playing a key role as the Russian giants humbled the La Liga heavyweights 3-0 in the return leg.
The right-footed ace, who joined CSKA permanently last summer, has bagged impressive returns of 25 goals and 17 assists in 77 appearances in all competitions for the Russian outfit. A full international for Croatia since 2017, Vlasic has accumulated 5 goals and an assist in 15 international appearances for his country.
Vlasic would add more creativity to Newcastle’s attack
Nikola Vlasic has long been touted as one of Croatia’s next generation of stars and his impressive displays at the club and international level lies testament to his enormous potential. The 23-year-old recently enjoyed a very productive international break, scoring the opener in a 2-1 win over Sweden in the UEFA Nations League before grabbing the equaliser in an eventual 2-1 loss against World champions France.
The goal against France, in particular, was a clear reflection of his eye-watering technical abilities. Surrounded by several opposition defenders, Vlasic used his excellent close control to receive the ball with a neat first touch before displaying an astonishing speed of thought to fire an accurate shot from the outside of his right boot into Hugo Lloris’ net.
To put things into perspective, Newcastle should definitely go back in the market for the Croatian international in January or next summer. The Magpies roped in Ryan Fraser on a free transfer to improve the quality of their supply lines this summer, but they can certainly do with another out-and-out No.10 enhance creativity.
Despite promising a lot with his energy and commitment, Miguel Almiron has lacked sufficient end product in his game. With Joelinton also failing to deliver the goods, Allan Saint-Maximin has been forced to shoulder the bulk of the team’s creative workload.
Hence, it’s a no-brainer that a potential deal for Vlasic would not only represent a massive upgrade on Almiron but also sort out Newcastle’s creativity issues for several years to come. Essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade, the Croatian is versatile enough to play out wide on either flank, thus potentially offering Steve Bruce more quality in multiple areas.
Vlasic’s heat map from the 2019-20 season clearly illustrates his high work rate and mobility as a playmaker in the final third. He also has the awareness to track back and help out his team in the defensive phase, which should make him an excellent fit for Newcastle’s style of play.
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Nikola Vlasic has already made massive strides towards fulfilling his vast potential and Newcastle shouldn’t hesitate to offer him a return to the Premier League. The Croatian still has his best years ahead of him and reigniting interest in the 23-year-old could well pay off handsomely for the club’s long-term plans.