Ante Coric: Who is the £15m-rated “Croatian Messi” Liverpool and Spurs want to sign in January?

Ante Coric: Who is the £15m-rated “Croatian Messi” Liverpool and Spurs want to sign in January?

A recent CIES Football Observatory report found Dinamo Zagreb to be one of the three most productive clubs in Europe’s top 31 divisions.

What this essentially meant is that Dinamo have produced the third-most number of players across those respective leagues, behind Ajax and Partizan Belgrade, totalling 55 players, with 13 of them currently in their first-team.

One of those individuals is 19-year-old Ante Coric, who’s fast developed a reputation as one of the most promising talents in Europe.

What is his background?

Born in Zagreb on April 14th 1997, his early footballing career was spent in the youth teams of Hrvatski Dragovoljac and NK Zagre, before departing for Austria when he enrolled at Red Bull Salzburg’s academy in 2009 ahead of interest from a plethora of European giants, including Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Barcelona.

Coric’s time there was brief, as he returned home but in the colours of Dinamo Zagreb aged 16, who gave him his first taste of professional football.

That moment came two days after his 17th birthday, when he came on as a 69th minute substitute against RNK Split.

How has he performed in Croatia?

Ante Coric was part of Croatia's Euro 2016 squad this summer.

Ante Coric was part of Croatia’s Euro 2016 squad this summer.

Since playing his first competitive game, Coric has made 102 appearances for Dinamo in all competitions, scoring 15 goals and creating a further 19.

In the process he’s collected two Croatian championships as well as two Croatian cups, while earning three caps for the national team, most recently in their 3-0 win over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park

What are his best attributes?

Contrary to popular belief, he’s not a winger per-se. Of the 100+ matches Coric has played for Dinamo, he was utilised on the wing for only eight of those.

He’s capable of operating in that role, but it’s more accurate to say Coric is most comfortable inside, with the vast majority of his appearances coming as an attacking midfielder (34), while he’s been favourably compared to Lionel Messi.

Verdict?

Coric has won three international caps with Croatia

Coric has won three international caps with Croatia.

A move to the Premier League would represent an incredible few seasons as a senior professional for Coric. But already in such a short career, he’s displayed the wherewithal to adapt and progress to the next level.

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the clubs most heavily-linked with a £15 million January move for him, are led by two managers who’ve placed youth development at the centre of their long-term visions.

Coric has all the technical attributes to succeed in one of Europe’s more demanding leagues, but it depends on selecting the right environment.