Ante Coric’s name continues to be linked with a move to the Premier League, with Liverpool reportedly among his admirers. We take a look at why the teenager is so coveted.
Reports of interest in Coric first started to surface last year, with the graceful attacking midfielder impressing for Dinamo Zagreb, whom he has helped to qualify for this season’s Champions League.
Coric’s emergence has bolstered the ranks of an already impressive array of Croatian midfielders, which includes the likes of Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic.
Despite being only 19 years of age, Coric has already experienced quite a varied career. After working his way through the youth ranks of Hrvatski Dragovoljac and NK Zagreb, he spurned advances from Bayern Munich to instead join Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg in 2009.
Explaining the move, Coric’s mother said: “Ante even said it himself that this was the only place where he didn’t feel he was much better than the rest of the kids and that he likes it that they train more often and harder than anywhere else.”
Coric – an elegant midfielder who at 5’6″ bears resemblance to former Spurs hero Modric – continued his development with Salzburg’s under-16 and under-18 sides, before returning to Croatia to join Dinamo Zagreb. 15 goals and 19 assists have followed, breaking the record to become the youngest ever goalscorer in the Europa League in the process.
Last season Coric broke into the Croatia squad, making his debut against Moldova in May, and was selected in the 23-man party for Euro 2016, but failed to make an appearance. That only appears to be delaying the inevitable though, with the playmaker expected to be a mainstay on the international scene for years to come.
Which clubs are watching?
Liverpool were heavily linked with Coric over the summer, and reports on Wednesday suggested the Reds remain contenders to sign the Croatian. Jurgen Klopp is understood to be keen to bolster his squad in January with Sadio Mane set to depart for the African Cup of Nations, and Coric fits the profile of footballer which the Liverpool boss has targeted in the past.
Meanwhile, Everton are likely to rival any bid, having also monitored the midfielder for quite some time, and believe they could have an advantage with the ability to offer more regular first-team football.
Tottenham have emerged as fellow contenders, with Spurs hoping Coric can follow in the footsteps of Modric, who they also signed from Dinamo Zagreb in a then-record £16.5million fee in 2008.
How much will he cost?
Reports over the summer suggest Coric would be available for £15million, which is hardly likely to deter Premier League outfits.
Manchester City are understood to have agreed a deal to sign the youngster in the off-season, only for Coric to turn his back on the move after learning that Pep Guardiola intended to loan him back out straight away.
What they said:
Zoran Mamic, Dinamo Zagreb manager:
“Ante is a treasure for our club. He is a greater talent than Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic were at his age.”
Romeo Jozak, Dinamo youth academy director:
“[He] is a very talented, offensive-minded midfield player who at the same time respects the collective. Ante Coric not only has prospects for Dinamo, but also for the Croatian national team.”
Goncalo Santos, Dinamo Zagreb midfielder:
“He is a great technician and has a good chance. He needs to grow and learn more, but he is very good player.”