Sunday, 15 May 2022

Marko Livaja Breaks 87-Year-Old Hajduk Record with 27 Goals in Single Season!

May 15, 2022 - Marko Livaja has broken an 87-year-old Hajduk record, scoring 27 goals in a single season after two goals from the penalty spot against Istra last night. 

Hajduk's #10 Marko Livaja wrote Hajduk history in Saturday's match against Istra 1961, becoming Hajduk's top scorer in one season with 27 goals! 

Until the match against Istria, he was tied with legendary striker Zlatko Vujović in second place with 25 goals. However, after putting two goals in the back of Istra's net, he broke Leo Lemešić's record from the 1934/35 season with 26 goals scored. Lemešić is the second-top scorer in the history of the club behind Frane Matošić.

Marko scored goals against all clubs in the Croatian First League this season. Namely, in the 2021/22 Croatian Championship, he scored six goals against Istra 1961, five goals against Rijeka, four goals against Hrvatski Dragovoljac, three goals against Gorica and Lokomotiva, two goals against Šibenik and Slaven Belupo, and one goal against both Osijek and Dinamo to seal his title at the top scorer in the league.

It is also clear that with 27 goals, Marko Livaja will win the HNL Golden Boot after Josip Drmić no longer has a chance to catch the Hajduk striker due to a two-match ban. Recall, Drmić was fined 5,000 kuna and a two-match ban for hitting Stefan Simić in last Sunday's Adriatic derby between Rijeka and Hajduk. Drmić is thus in second place with 21 goals, while Dion Drena Beljo, Mislav Oršić, and Marko Dabro (who left Lokomotiva for China a month and a half ago) follow. Drmić will be free for the next two weekends, but he can play in the Cup final between Rijeka and Hajduk at Poljud on May 26.

"Numerous well-deserved hymns have been written about the achievements, statistics, records, moves, and games of Hajduk's #10s. His contribution will surely remain inscribed in the club's history alongside the greatest greats. Not only on the pitch but also off it" concluded Hajduk in a statement

The best player in the HNL started scoring at Inter and continued in Atalanta, FC Rubin Kazan, Empoli, Las Palmas, AEK, and now Hajduk. His 26th goal in Saturday's game was also the 100th goal of his career. 

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Hajduk Tops Dinamo 1:0 at Poljud, Stays in Fight for Croatian Championship Title!

April 20, 2022 - Hajduk and Dinamo met in the biggest Croatian derby at Poljud Stadium tonight in Split, the makeup 9th round match which was meant to be played at the end of last year. Hajduk's 1:0 victory tonight keeps them in the fight for the Croatian championship title! 

Hajduk and Dinamo met tonight for the third time this season, making up the 9th-round match scheduled for the end of last year. In the 18th round, Hajduk won 2:0 at Maksimir, and in the 27th round at the end of March in Split, it ended 0:0. These two rivals will meet again in the last 36th round at Maksimir on May 21. 

The stakes in today's game were exceptionally high for Hajduk, who needed a victory to stay in the race for the Croatian championship title. Defeat would leave Hajduk 10 points behind Dinamo, which was at the top going into the match with 66 points. Hajduk was in third place with 59 points, while Osijek has 64 points.

Hajduk sold 29,000 tickets by Tuesday, and more than 2,500 Hajduk fans gathered at the Poljud training ground on Monday to announce their support for the Split club.

Lineups

HAJDUK: L.Kalinić, Mikanović, Ferro, Elez, Melnjak, Vuković, Krovinović, Fossati, Mlakar, Livaja, N.Kalinić

DINAMO: Livaković, Theophile, Šutalo, Lauritsen, Ristovski, Mišić, Ademi, Petković, Gojak, Emreli, Oršić

Recap

Dinamo was the first to attack with a corner in the 2nd minute, which Kalinic saved. Emreli went down in the penalty area from the play, which brought the game to a halt for nearly 5 minutes. 

Tensions were high in the first 10 minutes, with loud shouts to the ref from Hajduk fans. A dangerous free-kick was awarded to Hajduk in the 10th minute, which Krovinovic took just outside the box. However, Dinamo's defense was solid to clear it. 

Nikola Kalinic pressured Livakovic in the 13th minute, which forced him to clear the ball. Hajduk got their first corner a minute later. After back and forth in front of Dinamo's goal, it eventually ended in Livakovic's hands. 

Hajduk fans were constantly whistling against the ref, who seemed to be calling more for Dinamo in the first 20 minutes. Dinamo pressured Hajduk's defense in the 21st minute and was awarded their second corner of the match. Hajduk's defense cleared it.

Melnjak and Lauritsen had a nasty collision during the corner, which ended in bandaged heads for them. The match finally resumed after another 5-minute injury break. 

After another collision between Livaja and Petkovic, Melnajk decided he could no longer continue, and Colina was brought on as Hajduk's first substitution in the 31st minute. 

Foul after foul, the match slowly went on.  

Hajduk picked up the intensity in the 36th minute and almost had a chance on Dinamo's empty goal, but Livakovic made it back in time for the save. 

Dambrauskas' assistant Skinderis was sent off with a red car for mouthing to the ref in the 40th minute. To say that tensions were high at this point would be an understatement. 

With so many fouls, there was hardly any rhythm in the game for either team. As a result, ten minutes of stoppage time was added to the first half. 

Hajduk was awarded a corner in the 4th minute of stoppage time, but Krovinovic ultimately shot wide of the far post. Dinamo attacked in the next play, which was cleared out for a throw-in by Hajduk's defense. 

Livaja nearly had a one-on-one with Livakovic, but Dinamo's defense double-teamed him to stop the attack.

The first half ended 0:0 with 50/50 possession and Hajduk's 2 shots on target to Dinamo's 0.

The second half started without any changes. Vukovic had two shots within a minute which were both cleared by the Dinamo defense. Mlakar shot at Livakovic minute later. 

Dinamo attacked in the next play but Emreli shanked over the goal. Dinamo subbed on Ivanusec for Gojak in the 54th minute. 

Hajduk had another brilliant chance in front of the goal in the 55th minute. Livaja sent the ball into the near post but it was saved by the Dinamo defense. 

Petkovic and Orsic were essentially neutralized by the Hajduk defense in the match so far. 

Orsic tried shooting from 30 meters but hit high over the post in the 61st minute.

Hajduk was hungrier this half which ultimately ended in a goal. Nikola Kalinic hit a far-post rocket into the back of Dinamo's net for 1:0 in the 63rd minute! 

Dinamo made another sub in the 66th minute - Spikic was subbed on for Ristovski. 

Dinamo picked up the pace in the 5 minutes that followed. Kalinic's fingertips saved the day from Dinamo equalizing in the 69th minute, sending it out for a corner. 

Dinamo subbed again in the 74th - Tolic came on for Misic, and Hajduk subbed off Vukovic for Sahiti. 

Livaja shot wide of the far post in the 77th minute, as did Tolic for Dinamo one minute later. 

In the 84th minute, Hajduk subbed off Colina for Simic and Nikola Kalinic for Lovrencsics. Dambrauskas was making a defensive decision with 5 minutes left. 

Livaja was shown a yellow card in the 88th-minute meaning he'll miss the next match against Belupo.  

Six minutes of stoppage time was added to the end of the match. Dinamo had a dangerous chance in the next minute with Kalinic's save going out for a corner. 

Livaja was one-on-one again with Dinamo's last defender and sent the ball to Mlakar who shot over the goal. Neither team was able to score in the time that remained...

The match ended 1:0 for Hajduk! 

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Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Return of Perišić to Poljud? Hajduk Fans Say ''It's Time''

Februay 9, 2022 - With his contract due to expire in June, the euphoria of the fans, and the complicity of returnees Marko Livaja and the recently introduced Nikola Kalinić, there are plenty of reasons to believe in the return of Perišić to Poljud. The petition, created by Hajduk fans and supported by Livaja himself, is already underway with the slogan #PerišićVrimeJe (Perišić, it's time).

It is impossible to deny the influence and insistence of the Hajduk Split fans, especially when one recalls their great effort to retain their star player, Marko Livaja, under the motto: ''Livaja, ostaje u Hajduku'' (Livaja, stay at Hajduk). Said and done, the idol born in Split decided in the end to stay and today he has contributed 17 goals in 20 league games so that Hajduk finds itself fighting for the title, 5 points behind leaders Dinamo Zagreb and 2 points behind Osijek and Rijeka, with one game less than both.

The Dalmatian club presented yesterday at the Poljud its brand new signing, striker Nikola Kalinić, who arrived from Hellas Verona after a prolific career that includes top clubs such as Atlético de Madrid, AC Milan, and Fiorentina. Hajduk surprised everyone on Sunday night when they posted an emotional video on their social media that appealed to nostalgia and memories, as well as the connection between Split and Verona, which in the end revealed the agreement reached for Kalinić's return to Poljud.

During Kalinić's presentation, the player revealed in the press conference that both Edin Džeko and Ivan Perišić called him the night before, but did not reveal the details of the conversations but added that he told his teammate from the national team that ''everything was on him.'', reports Net.hr. Hajduk fans, quick as no other, began to speculate on the return of Perišić, even more so considering that the winger ends his contract with Inter Milan in June this year, and will go on to become a free agent. At the moment, nothing is certain regarding a possible renewal with the Italian team, as well as offers from other clubs, which invites one to dream of the return of Perišić to Poljud.

Speculation has now turned into a petition, and even Hajduk fans already have a slogan to kick off the motion: #PerišićVrimeJe (Perišić, it's time). It should be remembered that the intentions of signing the 33-year-old winger from Omiš are not new, since the motto was coined last year after the long-awaited renewal of Marko Livaja. But hope in Hajduk fans has increased considering Perišić's contract situation, and even more so after Livaja himself joined the petition in a video that has now gone viral on social media.

At the moment, with nothing certain about his future, Perišić is focused on his current team, with whom he beat Roma 2-0 yesterday for the Coppa Italia, in a match in which he played 85 minutes. The Croatian player has the full confidence of his coach, Simone Inzaghi, and is an undisputed starter in his formation. Ivan's commitment and concentration are necessary for the remainder of the season. The 'neroazzurri' will visit Napoli on Saturday in a decisive match that could help them secure the top spot in Serie A, as they are coming off losing to arch-rivals AC Milan and the Napolitan team is currently second with just one point behind. Also, next Wednesday they will face powerful Liverpool at home in the return of the UEFA Champions League, for the round of 16.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 7 February 2022

Nikola Kalinić Returns to Poljud: Former Croatia Striker Rejoins Hajduk from Serie A

February 7, 2022 - It was all but confirmed by Hajduk until late Sunday night - Nikola Kalinić is coming home! 

"HNK Hajduk can confirm with great satisfaction that our first team will be stronger in the continuation of the season thanks to Nikola Kalinić, who is returning to Poljud after more than 12 years and taking over his number 9! Nikola arrives at Hajduk at the age of 34 as a free agent after terminating his contract with Hellas Verona," writes Hajduk to announce the news

Kalinić is a child of Hajduk, passed all age categories of the Academy, and became one of its most recognizable products in the recent history of the Club. He played a total of 79 official matches for the Hajduk first team and scored 44 goals. In the 2007/2008 season, he scored 17 goals and scored 15 times the following season. He left Poljud in 2009 in a then-record transfer to English club Blackburn. In his impressive career, he played for Ukrainian club Dnipro, then for the Italian Serie A clubs Fiorentina, AC Milan, and Roma, and for La Liga giant Atletico Madrid. He scored over 170 goals in official matches and recorded over 50 assists for his teammates in his career.

"We all know very well what kind of accomplished football player he is; he played for some of the world's biggest clubs in the strongest leagues at the highest level of football quality. From the first moment of the negotiations, we saw his determination and interest in returning and his desire to be part of our project to create a strong Hajduk. Nikola is now returning to his club, full of motivation to help us in the fight for trophies. That says enough about what kind of person he is because he chose to return to his football home despite more generous offers and the opportunity to stay in Italy. His appearance, personality and, in the end, the most important thing, which is football quality, will bring a lot to our team. Not only in terms of football but also in terms of role models, leaders, and people who will help the whole team rise to a higher level of football," said Hajduk sports director Mindaugas Nikoličius.

Nikola could not be happier to wear the white jersey again. 

"Returning to Hajduk is a special moment in my life. I signed contracts with many clubs, big clubs, played for them, but Hajduk is the greatest for all of us who grew up here, and we are emotionally attached to it. This is where I grew up, the place where I gained my football affirmation; in the end, this is where I was born, and this is where my people are. So I will do my best to keep this moment, to cheer up everyone who breathes for Hajduk and keep this moment and the current emotion around the club as long as possible," said Kalinić. 

The official presentation of Nikola Kalinić will be at a press conference on Tuesday at noon.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

 

Monday, 10 January 2022

Hajduk's Stipe Biuk Only Croatian Footballer on UEFA's 40 for the Future

January 10, 2022 - Hajduk Split wonderkid Stipe Biuk is in the UEFA spotlight as the only Croatian footballer named as a young player to watch in 2022. 

The European Football Organization (UEFA) has singled out a list of the most talented footballers under the age of 21 who could come to the forefront of the football public this season.

The list includes several famous names and one Croatian football player - 19-year-old Hajduk Split winger Stipe Biuk.

Thanks to his outstanding performance in the U21 European Championship quarterfinal match against Spain earlier this year, the European football public took notice of the Hajduk Split player. 

"Biuk turned heads with an impressive cameo against Spain at last summer's Under-21 EURO finals, and the left-winger has been a regular starter at club level during the past nine months," writes UEFA. 

He won a penalty for extra time, though the U21 Croatia national team did not have enough strength to beat Spain and win a spot in the semifinals.

Biuk signed a professional contract with Hajduk until 2026 in January 2021. As captain, he led the Hajduk junior team to lead the standings in the first half of the season. Thanks to his excellent play, he was invited to the winter preparations with the first team last year, together with Marin Ljubičić. He has also been a regular member of all Croatia national team younger age categories. 

Some of the largest European clubs have already targeted Biuk. In August last year, it was revealed that Lokomotiv Moscow and Manchester City were after the youngster, with City offering 12.5 million euros for the footballer. It would have been the club's record transfer. 

Hajduk's record outgoing transfer thus far is Nikola Vlašić, who was sold to Everton in the summer of 2017 for 10.8 million euros. 

You can see the list of UEFA's most talented young footballers HERE.

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Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Marko Livaja Most Viewed Player on Transfermarkt

December 8, 2021 - After leading Hajduk to a 2:0 victory against Dinamo during the 'Eternal Derby' in the 18th round of the Croatian First League, scoring a goal and an assist in his first Maksimir derby, Marko Livaja brought his status as a football icon among Hajduk fans to new heights.

Hajduk received a spontaneous welcome reception in Split after the match in Zagreb on Sunday, and Livaja was notably the hero of the Split club. But the celebration did not stop there, and in the spirit of the Hajduk-Dinamo rivalry, many songs were sung by the fans, some of which are considered hate speech and derogatory, reports Gol.hr.

A video has thus surfaced of Marko Livaja and 2018 World Cup finalist Danijel Subašić joining in on the singing at a local nightclub, which has now resulted in an investigation by the disciplinary judge of the Croatian First League for inappropriate behavior and violating the Code of Conduct for football employees, HNS said.

Just how much pomp has reigned around Marko Livaja in the aftermath of the Eternal Derby is perhaps best illustrated by the following data. From December 6 to the morning of December 7, Marko Livaja was the most viewed footballer on the popular website for football values, Transfermarkt.

Behind Livaja in second place was Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, the 21-year-old Brazilian who also plays in excellent form, while behind the two were the world's most famous footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo and recent Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi.

It's safe to say that Livaja's brilliant performance at Maksimir, as well the controversy around the anti-Dinamo songs, contributed to why so many searched for his name online. 

Hajduk's #10 has scored 16 goals in 20 appearances this season and has four assists. According to Transfermarkt, Livaja is worth 3.5 million euros.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Valdas Dambrauskas Named New Hajduk Split Coach

November 2, 2021 - Valdas Dambrauskas is the new coach of HNK Hajduk Split.

The club today agreed to work with Dambrauskas, who signed a contract until the summer of 2024.

Coach Dambrauskas was born in Pakruojis, Lithuania, on January 7, 1977. He has 14 years of football experience behind him. He started at the Fulham, Manchester United, and Brentford Football Academies. His first senior coaching engagement was in the Kingsbury London Tigers, which he led from 2007 to 2010.

He then worked for the next two years as the coach of the U-17 and U-19 national teams of Lithuania, and in that period, he was also an assistant coach at Lithuanian club Ekranas. In 2014 he took over the independent management of Ekranas. He soon moved to the head coach of Žalgiris, where he remained until 2017, during which time he won three consecutive titles. Before coming to Gorica, he worked as a coach of the Latvian RFS. He arrived in the HNL in February 2020 and stayed until September 2021, when he transferred to the Bulgarian Ludogorets, his last coaching engagement before coming to Hajduk.

With coach Dambrauskas arrive two assistants, 47-year-old Marius Skinderis and 36-year-old Justinas Gasiunas. Skinderis played as a defender in his senior career and played for numerous clubs from 1993 to 2010. In his coaching career, he worked as an assistant with Ekranas and Panevėžys, then as the first coach with Nevežis, and then as an assistant coach of Dambrauskas in RFS and Ludogorets. Justinas Gasiunas will be the new goalkeeper coach in the first-team staff. In his coaching career so far, among other things, he has many years of experience working at the Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. and Brentford and in the Lithuanian national team. Mislav Karoglan, Šime Veršić, and Antonio Sebežević remain in the staff of the first team as assistants.

"Valdas Dambrauskas is a coach who led very well organized and successful teams, which he upgraded with his coaching knowledge. I am convinced that he will bring us new energy and that with his knowledge and experience, he will contribute to the improvement of quality in all segments of football. It is the profile of the coach who primarily seeks to establish a positive relationship with the whole team, which we consider a fundamental prerequisite for success. He prefers to work with players of a strong character; he believes that working with such a player profile is essential for success and reaching the highest football level. I believe that in addition to all the above, in a relatively short period he will raise the level of quality of our game, the value of players, and thus give a new dimension to the team needed in the fight for trophies," said sports director Mindaugas Nikoličius.

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Hajduk Strategy Until 2027: Two Croatian Titles, Champions League and Europa League Group

October 30, 2021 - The Hajduk strategy until 2027 was presented to fans. President Lukša Jakobušić and Management Board member Ivan Matana spoke at the ceremony, and the strategy developed by Matana was presented by Gordan Kožulj, who today works for Deloitte, which also participated in the strategy development.

Index.hr reports that in the beginning, Kožulj stated Hajduk's clear goals until 2027. In that period, Hajduk wants to win the championship twice, be second in other seasons and win at least one Cup. In addition, they intend to play the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers twice, the Champions League group once, the Europa League group once, and the Conference League group three times. In this competition, one entry into round of 32 and once into the round of 16 is expected. The average age of the A team of the club must be between 24 and 26 years, and every year the Hajduk junior team wants to promote two young players to the first team.

"Hajduk is currently the 140th club in Europe. For all Croatian clubs, including Hajduk, the key is to play in European competitions. Revenues from UEFA are significant for clubs, the value of players is rising, and there is a fight for the national coefficient. Hajduk has played only the preliminaries of the European League during the past five seasons. This Management is not satisfied with that. The Hajduk management believes that Hajduk can be between 80 and 100 on the UEFA rankings. Last year, Milan was 80, and Maribor was 100 with five million euros.

This is an example of clubs with a large budget falling to a lower level and clubs with a small budget, such as Maribor, getting a good result. We took the example of Rapid, Partizan, Legija and AZ Alkmaar. Hajduk and the Management must think about how to reach a budget of at least 20 million euros to achieve the desired goal," Kožulj said.

He also said that the Academy must help to improve results.

"We need to have professional staff who can hone their talent. When we came in 2016, we saw that Hajduk has 40 outside scouts. Only three of them made a report at the end of the year. Today the club has clear contours of an advanced organization," Kožulj said.

The development of the Academy includes the construction of a football camp with fields and ancillary facilities, the development of Hajduk Digital, developing the sales network and strengthening cooperation with sponsors and systematizing operations, establishing a new performance and reward management system, and developing three-year business plans.

In October 2015, Hajduk's then-president Marin Brbić published a three-year work plan and program from 2016 to 2019. Thus, already in the 2015/2016 season, the goal was to win one of the national trophies, and in the 2016/2017 season to be "the most serious candidate to win one of the national trophies and enter the group of UEFA competitions".

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Thursday, 28 October 2021

Happy 71st Birthday, Torcida! A Look Back on Hajduk Fan Group History

October 28, 2021 - Torcida, the oldest supporters group in Europe, celebrates its 71st birthday today. A look back on the Hajduk fan group history and how it all began.

One soul and two bodies, as the quote reads, best depicts how intertwined Torcida and Hajduk are. And today, Hadjuk's beloved fan group celebrates its 71st birthday, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

For decades, October 28, 1950, has become as crucial in the history of Hajduk as the date of its founding on February 13, 1911. 

 

Namely, on October 28, 1950, a group of Hajduk fans organized in Zagreb, with students from Dalmatia, and made their way to Split. The next day, Hajduk played the decisive championship match against Red Star (Crvena Zvezda). Hajduk ultimately won 2:1 and thus became champions with goals by Bernard Vukas and Božo Broketa. It was a famous title for Hajduk, which they clinched without a defeat.

But why 'Torcida'? In the summer of 1950, when the World Cup was played in Brazil, five Hajduk members (Vladimir Beara, Bernard Vukas, Božo Broketa, Ervin Katnić, and Ivo Radovniković) were part of the Yugoslavia national team. They spoke about the chants and cheering they experienced in Rio de Janeiro, at the Maracana, the pride of Brazil, and the largest stadium in the world.

"Those fans in Brazil, their name is Torcida, and they make such a loud noise that at the start of the game, you are immediately at a loss. It is difficult to resist that and get a favorable result in that atmosphere!"

Those words published in the press drummed in the ears of Dalmatians. As a result, Vjenceslav Žuvela, a student from Korčula, became the ideological leader of that first Zagreb gathering, leaving the capital for Split on a Hajduk fan train.

 

Today, Žuvela's grave on Korčula is regularly visited by delegations from Hajduk and Torcida. The fan group has become somewhat of a social movement with incredible influence on the Split club. And with its founding on October 28, 1950, Torcida is the oldest supporters group in Europe.

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Friday, 8 October 2021

Marko Brkljača Among Best Young Talents in World Football

October 8, 2021 - In this year's Next Generation, a list in which The Guardian carefully selects the 60 best prospects in world football, a Croatian player has stood out and it is 17-year-old Hajduk Split midfielder Marko Brkljača.

Every year since 2014, the British medium The Guardian publishes a list called Next Generation, in which 60 young players in world football stand out for their precocious and surprising performance in the minor divisions of their clubs and national teams. Some of them even add minutes with the first team, but the main objective of the list is to recognize the main promises in football.

The list is compiled by a diverse number of journalists and soccer analysts, who constantly follow the major soccer leagues not only in Europe but all over the world. Although any type of list can be subjective in nature, it is true that many of the players who have appeared on these lists in the past are today part of the football elite, such as:

  • Ousmane Dembélé - Barcelona (Next Generation 2014)
  • Luka Jović - Real Madrid (2014)
  • Dayot Upamecano - Bayer München (2015)
  • Manuel Locatelli - Juventus (2015)
  • Dani Olmo - RB Leipzig (2015)
  • Christian Pulisic - Chelsea (2015)
  • Federico Valverde - Real Madrid (2015)
  • Kai Havertz - Chelsea (2016)
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma - PSG (2016)
  • Matthijs de Ligt - Juventus (2016)
  • Vinicius Júnior - Real Madrid (2017)
  • Alphonso Davies - Bayern München (2017)
  • Jadon Sancho - Manchester United (2017)
  • Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund (2017)
  • Ferrán Torres - Manchester City (2017)
  • Mason Greenwood - Manchester United (2018)
  • Eric García - Barcelona (2018)
  • Eduardo Camavinga - Real Madrid (2019)
  • Ansu Fati - Barcelona (2019)
  • Pedri - Barcelona (2019)
  • Jamal Musiala - Bayern München (2020)

Many Croatian players who are now part of the national team also appeared in previous editions, such as Nikola Vlašić (2014) and Josko Gvardiol (2019). Other Croatian players who were selected for the Next Generation roster were Ante Ćorić (2014), Davor Lovren (2015), Michele Sego and David Colina (2017), Antonio Marin and Mario Vušković (2018); and Bartol Barišić, Ivan Ćubelić, and Tomislav Duvnjak (2020).

This year, The Guardian has placed a Croatian player on the list, the Hajduk Split midfielder Marko Brkljača, born in Zadar on July 15th, 2004. This is how journalist Aleksandar Holiga describes Brkljača on The Guardian's Next Generation 2021 list:

''A left-footed box-to-box midfielder in the vein of, say, Georginio Wijnaldum. Regarded the biggest national prospect of his generation by some distance, Marko Brkljača attracts immediate attention with a smooth first touch and impressive physical capacity. His coaches particularly praise his ability to withstand challenges against older and bigger opponents, but also his sense for timing runs from behind, which regularly gets him into goal-scoring positions. Juventus tried to sign him last winter but they are not the only big club interested. Hajduk will want him to establish himself in the first team before considering any offers and he will get his chance soon enough – he made his senior debut in a cup game in September''.

The 17-year-old Croatian midfielder has yet to make his senior debut but continues to add minutes for the Hajduk U-19 team, where he is currently playing the UEFA Youth League, and the Croatian U19's. In a Croatian national team where the absence of the great Luka Modric will be felt in the coming years, it would not be bad for another Zadar-born midfielder to emerge as his successor. Let's hope so!

The Croatian national team plays today against Cyprus for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at 8:45 p.m. Stay tuned for updates from Total Croatia News.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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