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Scouting the Balkans: Finding the next Vidic, Modric and Dzeko

The Balkan regions has a great proficiency when it comes to producing elite talent on a regular basis, FTF explored eleven players worth keeping an eye on.

For decades they played under one flag as Yugoslavia. However as the Eastern Bloc fell, the Balkan region has now been separated into individual international states.

Even amidst turmoil, the country has continued to produce elite footballers.

From Dragan Dzajic, Stepan Bobek, Darko Pančev and Dejan Savićević came the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Luka Modric, Dejan Stankovic and Edin Dzeko.

The region continues to thrive, with Dinamo Zagreb, Partizan Belgrade, Red Star Belgrade, Hajduk Split and Vojvodina among the top ten clubs when it comes to producing active players in Europe’s top 31 leagues according CIES.

In recent years, the likes of Ejlif Elmas, Dusan Vlahovic or Borna Sosa have emerged from the region to elite clubs across Europe’s top five leagues.

FTF have decided to take a look at eleven Balkan players who could follow suit in the years ahead.

Nemanja Jovic

Born: 8 August 2002 

Nationality: Serbian (Also eligible for Bosnia)

Position: Left Winger

Club: Partizan Belgrade

Partizan Belgrade have a long and historic line of recent academy graduates, from Aleksander Mitrovic, Nikola Milenkovic to Dusan Vlahovic.

This year most peoples’ eyes have been cast on Filip Stevanovic who is bound for Manchester City.

However, in 2021, the spotlight has been stolen by Nemanja Jovic instead.

Born in Zvornik right on the outskirts of Bosnia, Jovic was first spotted at the age of 12 by Partizan Belgrade.

Since then he has worked his way up the ranks, and after making tentative steps into the first team over the summer, including scoring in a pre-season friendly against Romanian outfit, Vitorul, he has finally started to earn regular minutes in 2021.

An assist in a 21 minute cameo on his debut, and a goal in his first start in consecutive match-weeks has ensured he has stayed in Aleksandar Stanojevic’s reckoning. 17 appearances later he has 4 goals and 2 assists and 663 minutes under his belt.

As illustrated by this goal map Jovic’s four goals have come from central positions. He’s been predominantly deployed as an LW, however he likes to drift into the middle, either making a run in behind the defence, or by finding space inside the box.

His range of goals have been impressive. The debut goal against Napredak was a first time finish from outside the box. Against FK Indjija, Jovic made a clever run in behind the defence from a ball over the top and stayed composed in a one on one situation. Meanwhile his last goal to date against Metalac was a wonderfully placed header after a clever run to find space inside the box.

Although not yet prolific in front of goal, Jovic is very good at finding shooting opportunities inside the box. He averages 2.44 shots per 90 according to Wyscout.

(Image via Wyscout)

As you can see the vast majority have come inside the box.

Partizan average the second highest amount of shots in the league (17.52 per 90) and 4.0 more than the third highest Backa Topola. The Belgrade based side are dominant in most games averaging 2.55 goals per 90, so Jovic’s stats are supplemented by the fact that he plays in a highly attacking and dominant system.

But it is not just through his shooting that Jovic catches the eye. He is an excellent dribbler and has the ability to quickly shift the ball from one feet to another bamboozling his opponents in the process. Jovic averages 2.3 progressive runs per 90. (5th highest for U20 players in the league) and also makes 6.23 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 54.35% which puts him in the top ten most effective and productive dribblers in the league.

Jovic ranks the highest (U20) for smart passes per 90 with 1.08. Having come into the side as a relatively unknown, the 18 year old has been impressive in his link-up play with the likes of Filip Holender, Takuma Asano and Lazar Markovic. He has only registered two assists so far if you are including penalties won, however, his expected assists per 90 is the highest for U20 players at 0.32 and ranks in the top 5 for the league.

Still a bit raw, there is a lot to like about Jovic. He has the right mentality too and will chase down loose balls when necessary. He averages 6.09 defensive duels per 90, winning 53% of them, makes 0.68 slide tackles per 90 and wins 4 interceptions per 90.

Recent Partizan graduates point to a mix bag. There’s been the fallen stars like Lazar Markovic or Andrija Zivkovic, but on the other hand the likes of Dusan Vlahovic and Nemanja Milenkovic have enjoyed impressive campaigns in Serie A.

With his teammate Stevanovic snapped up by Manchester City, it will only be a matter of time until someone pounces on Jovic too.

Georgi Rusev

Born: 2 July 1998 

Nationality: Bulgarian

Position: Attacking Midfieder

Club: CSKA 1948 Sofia.

At 20 years of age when Rusev was relegated with his club Septemvri Sofia from Bulgaria’s top tier back in the 18/19 season, many would have given up on the Bulgarian talent.

However, Rusev used his time in the second-tier as an opportunity to showcase his talent. He finished the 19/20 season with 10 goals and 10 assists in 21 games in all competitions and earned a move back to Bulgaria’s top flight signing for CSKA 1948.

With 10 goal contributions (4 goals and 6 assists) in 24 games, Rusev has contributed to almost 30% of the club’s goals this season to date. Even though he is slightly underperforming his xG by 0.91, the campaign has been a really impressive breakout year for Rusev.

A versatile player who can play on either flank and also as a number ten or second forward, Rusev has an interesting profile. Technically he is extremely gifted.

One of his best moves during the season was when he controlled the ball with a chop to beat his opponent before carrying the ball into the penalty area to win a penalty for CSKA.

(Via Wyscout)

As his heatmap illustrates Rusev is extremely active in the opposition’s final third. He has averaged the most progressive runs for his team at 2.78 and is excellent at picking the ball up in dangerous situations and driving the play forward. Often the opposition have no choice but to bring him down in the process with Rusev suffering 1.92 fouls per 90 on average.

In terms of distribution Rusev is often the architecht and creator of CSKA’s offensive play. He averages 3.44 passes into the penalty area per 90, which is the second highest for his team.

Where the 22 year old could improve is his productivity when it comes to shooting opportunities. Rusev averages 1.81 shots per 90 and gets just 35.7% of them on target.

(Via Wyscout)

As you can tell from the map, Rusev has a tendency to shoot from long distance where a scoring chance is unlikely and where a pass to his teammate would have been more effective.

This is not to mean that Rusev’s shooting is by any means deficient, when in the right areas, the Bulgarian has an excellent and powerful range.

Mixed with his brilliant technique, there is definitely a lot of potential in the Bulgarian. With only one year left on his contract, other European clubs should definitely be sniffing around for his services.

Mario Vušković

Born: 16 November 2001

Nationality: Croatian

Position: Centre-Back

Club: Hajduk Split

A tall and powerful centre-back standing at 1.89 metres, Vuskovic caught the eye with an impressive performance against England at the U21 European Championships this spring.

Though in reality the 19 year old has been catching the eye at Hajduk Split all season.

After winning a starting spot in the side last season following the ease of Covid-19 restrictions, Vuskovic has not looked back.

He has been the linchpin of a Hajduk side who have conceded the third least goals in the Croatian top tier this season winning 69.07% of his defensive duels in the process (2nd highest for U21 players in the league) and 61.11% of his aerial duels making 6.5 PAdj interceptions per 90.

Vuskovic is a typically ‘old-fashioned’ centre-back. He is not particularly easy on the eye when in possession losing the ball 6.74 times per 90 (42% in his own half) and out of his 0.65 dribbles per 90 he is only successful in 38.1% of them.

Where Vuskovic does excel however is playing as a sweeper. He makes 11.02 recoveries per 90 and has the reading and understanding of the game to sniff out danger and react in time.

Aerially, he is also very strong. Both in the opposition’s box and defending chances in his own penalty area. Using his powerful body, Vuskovic has the ability to dominate his opponents.

It’s why the likes of Curtis Jones and Eddie Nketiah found it particularly hard to play against him and breakdown the Croatian team. Unsurprisingly, Vuskovic won 67% of his defensive duels and 80% of his aerial duels as well as making 6 interceptions to stifle out England’s rich attacking threat in that game back in March.

On top of that, Vuskovic is not afraid to put his body on the line. He is a fighter who will make last ditch challenges though he is careful it is not to the detriment of his team. Committing 1.02 fouls per 90 is roughly the average for a player in his position and not particularly alarming.

With Celtic already sniffing for his services, another string of solid performances in the rest of the U21 European Championships will only increase his potential suitors.

Dashmir Elezi

Born:  21 November 2004

Nationality: North Macedonian

Position: Second Striker

Club: Shkendija

No sixteen year old has scored as many goals in Europe than Dashmir Elezi this season. Of course that comes with a caveat that there are very few 2004 born players who are already playing senior football. Dortmund’s Moukoko and Nordjaelland’s Schjelderup are the only other two outstanding candidates.

With 5 goals however, Elezi has outscored both of them, albeit in a far less advanced league.

Nonetheless, the 16 year old is without a shadow of a doubt a player worthy to be on your radar.

Regarded as one of North Macedonia’s greatest prospects, Elezi broke Eljif Elmas’ record by becoming the youngest debutant in North Macedonia’s top flight back in late 2020 and scoring in the process.

Elezi has not looked back since making 16 appearances and scoring 5 goals in total.

His record is all the more impressive considering he is currently playing for the league leaders meaning he has been able to fight himself into the reckoning at such a young age into the best team in his country.

Elezi is a diminutive player, with relentless energy on the pitch and rapid pace.

He’s still very raw at the moment, and at such a tender age his body is yet to adjust to the demands of adult football which means he can often be pushed off the ball. That will explain why he has only won 44.4% of his dribbles from 3.55 per 90.

What is admirable is Elezi’s versatility. Even in his short professional career he has already played across every position in attacking midfield from LW to RW and SS.

His ability to get in the box and find the back of the net with precision is definitely his biggest quality at the moment.

(Via Wyscout)

As the shot map demonstrates, almost all of Elezi’s goals have come in the same spot. Averaging 2.36 touches in the box per 90, he has the ability to anticipate where the ball will come and to find space even in tight and compact defences.

With 0.7 goals per 90, Elezi averages the joint highest goals per game ratio in the entire league.

He’s far from the finished article, you would not expect him to be at 16, but Elezi is without a doubt showing promising signs. With Goran Pandev set to hang up his boots, in Elezi North Macedonia could have his successor.

Mirlind Daku

Born:  1 January 1998

Nationality: Kosovan

Position: Striker

Club: KF Balkani (on loan from NK Osijek)

Only three players have scored more than Mirlin Daku in Europe’s 55 top flights this season.

Daku has scored a remarkable 25 goals and registered 2 assists in 28 games for Kosovan outfit KF Balkani.

The 23 year old’s excellent run of form was enough to even earn him a senior debut for Kosovo against Albanian late last year.

Meanwhile there are reports that the likes of Lazio and Torino are monitoring him from Serie A.

After bursting onto the scene as an 18 and 19 year old in the Kosovan league for FC Llapi, Daku earned himself a move to NK Osijek in Croatia. However, the then 20 year old struggled to break into the Croatian outfit’s first team.

Last season he had a half a season loan spell with FK Kukesi where he scored 3 goals in 16 games (just 4 starts).

In January 2020, low on confidence having not been able to secure the trust of his former managers, Daku returned back to his homeland and it seemed to have paid dividends.

He scored 5 goals in 10 games for KF Balkani who decided to extent his loan spell for another season.

The campaign has been a breakout year for Daku and has allowed him to regain the self-confidence which he lost in his unsuccessful stint back in Croatia.

When one watches him play for KF Balkani it is hard to see why Daku was so vehemently shunned by his previous coaches abroad.

To give him the sobriquet of a ‘monster’ would be a fair description. Daku is built with thick bulging thighs, and broad shoulders. His body mass often knocks and shrugs his opponents back to the ground. But on top of that the 23 year old has pace too and he can maraud forward and instigate attacks if necessary.

In terms of playing style and profile Daku is very similar to Erling Haaland. Of course by making that statement it’s important to clarify that this is not a declaration that Daku is or will be anywhere near on the same level as the Borussia Dortmund forward.

However, when comparing the two’s attacking styles, it’s hard not to ignore the comparisons. Daku for example has an xG of 0.72 per 90, Haaland’s meanwhile is 0.75. Daku takes 3.22 shots per 90 with a 45.6% accuracy meanwhile Haaland takes 3.25 shots per 90 with 55.3% accuracy. Daku averages 3.65 dribbles per 90 succeeding with 42% of them, Haaland averages 2.03 with a 53.7% success rate. Daku takes 4.8 touches in the penalty area per 90 meanwhile Haaland takes 5.58. And Daku makes 0.97 progressive runs per 90 meanwhile Haaland makes 0.92.

Daku’s link up play is not as effective as Haaland’s however, there is a lot to admire about the Kosovan forward. Of course he is playing in a relatively poor league that is ranked 48th in UEFA out of 55 countries.

Considering the fact that he was never given a real shot at NK Osijek or in Albanian potential suitors should not be warded off by his previous experience. However, it is crucial for Daku to find a team with the right system who will play to his strengths.

First and foremost Daku is a goal-scorer. He thrives inside the penalty area and he needs a team where he will be supplied with enough chances to find the back of the net.

The talent is there, where his career trajectory will take him is now in the hands of Mirlind Daku himself.

Matija Pejović

Born: 4 October 2000

Nationality: Montenegrin

Position: Centre-Back

Club: FK Rudar Pljevlja

20 year old Montenegrin centre-back Pejovic is among the few players we have included in our list whose future has already been decided.

Upon the end of the season Pejovic will be joining FC Riga in the Latvian top tier.

And the Latvian champions may well have just secured a true gem in the young centre back. One who could make them a handsome profit in the future.

Pejovic is the perfect ideal modern-day centre-back. He is tall an imposing standing at 1.96 metres. But he’s also excellent on the ball, able to play progressive passes forward in behind the opposition’s defence and instigate attacks.

The centre-back has dominated the Montenegrin top flight this season.

Pejovic has averaged 5.47 defensive duels per90 this season with a whopping 81.33% success rate. He has been just as commanding in the air, averaging 5.84 per 90 with a 73.75% success rate. Pejovic stands out head and shoulders from the rest in both of these metrics in the division. On top of that he also makes 8.61 PAdj interceptions per 90.

In terms of his distribution he makes 15.26 forward passes per 90 with a 61% accuracy. 7.81 per 90 are progressive passes, which is almost half of his total. This aspect is the most admirable of Pejovic. He is a centre-back who is always playing with his head up and searching for opportunities to advance his team’s attacking phase of the ball when in possession.

In January, Pejovic made the step-up to FC Riga whilst on trial and played three friendly matches against tough opposition like Zenit, Krasnodar and Dinamo Moscow. But he stood up to the task averaging 66.7% defensive duel success rate and winning 71.42% of his headers as well as all of his loose balls and averaging 6.59 interceptions per 90.

As alluded to before, FC Riga will not be his last step in professional football. At 20 years of age, Pejovic is already showing great potential and even though he has never been capped at international level for Montenegro it is surely only a matter of time. Especially considering he is still eligible to represent his nation’s U21 side.

Luka Stankovski

Born: 2 September 2002

Nationality: North Macedonian

Position:  Midfielder

Club: FK Rabotnički (Will join AC Monza)

Standing at 1.9 metres Luka Stankovski is a rare commodity. You rarely see a player of his stature play in such an advanced midfield role. However the 18 year old has thrived in North Macedonia this season.

After making his debut in 2019, deployed as a CDM, Stankovski really burst onto the scene at the start of 2020/21. Between August and October the young midfielder went on a 4 goal scoring streak in 5 matches, registering one assist in the process.

His knack for scoring goals led him to play in more advanced positions, and has been deployed more as an attacking midfielder in recent times.

(Stankovki’s heatmap via Wyscout)

Therefore it should come no surprise that he averages 2.44 touches in the box per 90. Or that he has 8 goals and 5 assists in 26 games this season.

Because of his physicality and tall stature, Stankovski is a player you could imagine occupying any midfield role in the future. In terms of his style of play there are touches of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic within him.

But he also reminds one of an elegant low-lying midfield playmaker.

Stankovski is technically gifted. He averages 3.17 dribblers per 90. Most of them taking place in the opposition’s final third. And completes 44% of them on average. Not a bad return but definitely a success rate which could be enhanced.

It is really through his distribution where Stankovski excels. He averages 1.75 smart passes per 90 which is the 2nd highest in the entire league.

Using his long-legs, the 18 year old has an excellent eye for picking out penetrative passes that are capable of breaking down defences and conjuring opportunities for his teammates. His 1.56 through balls also puts him in the top 10 in the league.

In terms of his defensive output, he is still lacking in a few areas. Stankovski currently only wins 51.92% of his defensive duels and competes in 7.6 per 90. Meanwhile his 2.78 interceptions per 90 is actually the lowest for U20 midfielders in the league.

Standing at a unique height, Stankovski is of course a threat in aerial battles too. He has already scored two goals from headers this season and competes in the most aerial duels in the entire league, a whopping 6.72 per 90. Considering the high volume and how most are in the box where he is tightly marked the fact that he wins 41.3% of them is fairly impressive. With time, his effectiveness in this area will improve too as the 18 year old learns to adapt to his markers.

Silvio Berlusconi’s AC Monza, who have ambitious plans, will be the next step in Stankovski’s career. Whether Stankovski will be playing in the Serie A or B next season is yet to be decided though.

One thing for sure, it’s unlikely he will be a starter there straight away considering his age and the league he is coming from.

But there is definitely room for him to make an impression, With AC Monza deploying a 4-3-3 formation, he could easily slot into either of the midfield roles.

Italian football’s physicality should suit Stankovski too. There is a reason why the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dusan Vlahovic have been able to thrive there.

Josip Šutalo

Born: 28 February 200 

Nationality: Croatian (Also eligible for Bosnia)

Position: Centre-Back

Club: NK Istra (On loan from Dinamo Zagreb)

As one young defender in Joško Gvardiol leaves Dinamo, in Josip Sutalo the Croatian giants could have another homegrown star ready for first team football.

Sutalo who has described his role models as Sergio Ramos and Dinamo’s very own homegrown talent, Vedran Corluka, has captained Zagreb’s youth sides from a very young age.

After signing a new contract with the club in October, Sutalo found his chances limited in the side. In January he made the loan move to NK Istra and has thrived since.

With a 72.41% defensive duel success rate Sutalo ranks in the top five in the Croatian top tier. His 6.78 interceptions per 90 is also the highest out of any other player in the top five.

Sutalo first caught the eye in the UEFA Youth League back in the 2018/19 season. During Dinamo Zagreb’s march to the quarter finals the Croatian centre-back won a whopping 95% of his defensive duels. Including winning 75% against a strong Liverpool side in the round of 16.

Ultimately, Zagreb succumbed to Chelsea on penalties who ended up in the final.

Zagreb’s competitive environment in the centre-back position has not helped Sutalo. Even Josko Gvardiol has been forced to play predominantly as a left-back.

However with the experience of this season behind him at NK Istra and having caught the eye, Sutalo has proven he has a future with Dinamo.

The 21 year old is a leader on the pitch. His decision making is excellent. On top of that he’s also blessed with an abundance of pace. He has averaged 9.9 recoveries per 90 this season in Croatia’s top flight.

Sutalo’s distribution has a nice range too. For centre-back he ranks in the top ten for average pass length with 22.81 metres. Meanwhile his average long pass length is the 7th highest at 40.2 metres.

A comfortable player on the ball, and effective too thanks to his pace, Sutalo averages the 4th highest dribbles per 90 for centre-backs in the league with 1.72. And with a 69.44% success rate he is the most successful out of anyone in the top five.

The next step for the 21 year old is to break into Dinamo’s first team.

(Sutalo heatmap via Wyscout)

His ability to play in both the LCB and RCB role will definitely aid him in his endeavour.

Andrej Đokanović

Born: 1 March 2001

Nationality: Bosnian

Position: Central Midfielder

Club: FK Sarajevo

The captain of the Bosnian U21 team, Djokanovic is without a shadow of a doubt one of Bosnia’s brightest prospects.

Finishing in 3rd place in U21 qualifying for the Euros, Djokanovic was instrumental in securing an impressive 3-2 victory over Belgium.

The 20 year old is a fiery and energetic midfielder who prefers to play in more defensive roles. His reading of the game is excellent and thanks to his pace he is very adept at intercepting the ball too. It should come as no surprise that he made a total of 7 interceptions against Belgium in that impressive victory back in the autumn of 2020.

His average PAdj interceptions per 90 this season in the Bosnian top flight for FK Sarajevo is 6.4 which ranks him in the top ten for U21 players and in the top three for midfielders.

Djokanovic has described his role model as Mateo Kovacic and one can certainly see the resemblance. The 20 year old used to play as a striker when he was younger and used to idolise Fernando Torres too.

Even though he rarely ventures that far forward these days, you can still see evidence of his attacking play. Djokanovic averages 3.47 dribbles per 90 and has a success rate of 57.89%. This is the second highest for U23 players in the league. And ranks him in the top five for players in his position overall who average at least 3.4 dribbles per 90.

(Djokanovic heatmap via Wyscout)

As you can tell from his heatmap, Djokanovic thrives in the middle of the park. Where you would like to see improvement is through his distribution.

Some have called him the next Miralem Pjanic. However if he is to be on par with his compatriot, and if he aspires to be a truly complete all-round midfielder, he will need to impact games offensively.

His progressive pass rate per 90 is not bad at 6.39 per 90. It ranks him in the top six for players in his position.

However in terms of key passes and smart passes as well as chances created, Djokanovic falls short. With 0 goals and 0 assists his productivity when he ventures forward in the final third needs to improve too.

Especially considering he has an xG of 1.72.

At academy level he was much more effective in this regard. For example for Sarajevo’s U17 team he registered 8 goals and 23 assists in 53 appearances.

With time and perhaps more maturity, there is hope Djokanovic can implement this side of his game into senior football too.

Damir Redzic

Born: 23 March 2003

Nationality: Hungarian (Also eligible for Bosnia)

Position: Winger

Club: Ferencváros

From the age of 14 Damir Redzic has lived 240 kilometres away from home at Ferencvaros’ academy barracks in Budapest. Spotted by the Hungarian giants whilst at Pecs where he also attracted the attention of the likes of Partizan Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb.

In the end the youngster chose to stay in the country of his birth.

According to reports Ferencvaros paid a Hungarian record fee to Pecs for the 14 year old in order to land Redzic.

Born to a Bosnian father, Redzic would be eligible to represent the Bosnian national team in the future.

This season he has predominantly featured for Ferencvaros’ II team in the third tier of Hungarian football where he has scored 10 goals in 13 starts.

Meanwhile he also has 5 goals in 4 games for Fradi at U19 level this season.

His red-hot form has also attracted the attention of the senior team where Serhiy Rebrov invited him to the winter training camp.

Redzic was given the chance to feature in a few of the friendly games and he did not disappoint scoring against Algeciras CF and producing a stellar performance against the Estonian national team.

Redzic is a rapid winger who loves to dribble. Against Estonia he made 7 dribbles and completed 6 of them. Not the tallest by any imagination, Redzic’s direct running style makes him a real livewire and very difficult to defend against.

He became one of the youngest players to debut for Ferencvaros’ senior team in NB1 in the 21st century when he came on against Puskas Akademia back in January.

He debuted for Hungary U18 team too this year against arch rivals Romania and dominated the game securing two assists from either flank in a 2-1 victory.

The next step for the 18 year old is to play regularly in the top flight of Hungarian football.

A loan-spell probably beckons with Ferencvaros having a tendency to loan out their best young players to smaller NB1 sides before throwing them into the first team.

At such a young age however, he is showing promising potential. He is a winger who is capable of playing on either side, and can even drift centrally.

Ferencvaros value him highly. The club have not been effective in producing homegrown talent in recent years, but their is hope that Redzic might change that.

The club even ran a short documentary about the 18 year old after he signed his second professional contract on their official Youtube channel.

Luka Markovic

Born: 19 February 2000 

Nationality: Serbian

Position: Forward

Club: Macva (On loan from Red Star Belgrade)

Both born in 2000, a few years ago Luka Markovic and Dusan Vlahovic were considered the two giant stars and future strikers of Serbian football.

Markovic coming from Red Star, and Vlahovic from Partizan. Both ended up in Italy, Markovic with Juventus and Vlahovic with Fiorentina. Unfortunately whereas 21 year old Vlahovic is among the top-scorers in Serie A this season, Markovic’s journey has not reached the heights which many have expected him to yet.

He first caught the eye as a 14 year old scoring 26 goals in 12 games for Red Star’s youth team.

Markovic then attracted the attention of Liverpool who were the first big club to be interested in the forward. He even had a trial spell with the Reds back in 2014.

In the end nothing materialised from the move. Markovic ended up at FK Cukaricki in 2018 for a short spell before moving to Crotone a few months later where he scored 3 goals in 4 Primavera games for the club’s U19 side and quickly earned himself a move to Juventus on loan where he scored 6 goals in 23 games for the club’s Primavera side.

That was not enough to secure a permanent move and ultimately Luka Markovic was forced to return back to Red Star Belgrade in the summer window of 2020.

His 20/21 season has been a frustrating one. Sent on loan to two different clubs, Markovic had the dream start at his first loan club Novi Pazar scoring a hat-trick against Vojvodina in just his second game for the club.

He ended the first half of the season with 3 goals in 9 games and with his loan spell expiring in January, Red Star decided to send him on another loan this time to Macva.

Unfortunately, Markovic arrived at a testing period for Macva who are currently fighting against relegation. He has made just 1 start and 5 substitute appearances and is yet to find the back of the net for a club who have scored the fewest goals in the Serbian Super League.

Even though he has been unfortunate with his moves, when he is on form Luka Markovic is a joy to watch.

He is well-built with a muscular physique which makes him a real nuisance for opposition defenders. He is excellent in the air but comfortable on the ball too. Averaging 2.74 dribbles per 90 this season.

(Markovic shot map via Wyscout)

His total xG is actually only 2.08, 0.92 lower than Markovic’s total tally for the season. As his shot map illustrates in 689 sporadic minutes he has been able to get into potentially dangerous positions as a striker.

The next step for Markovic is to find the right club. At 21 years of age he still has time to fulfil his potential which took him to Liverpool and Juventus.

The hat-trick against Vojvodina was proof too he could become a valuable striker for Red Star Belgrade and Dejan Stankovic in the future.

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