Now that January is upon us, it’s to be expected to see City linked with hundreds of players, due to the nature of the club’s resources. With a need to find a backup for Fernandinho, we’ve seen players such as Frenkie De Jong, Tanguy Ndombele & Ruben Neves be linked to the club. However, it seems as if City may have already brought in a replacement, if not someone who is particularly well known in England.
Wednesday evening saw Gianluca Di Marzio break the news that Manchester City had signed a Croatian midfielder by the name of Ante Palaversa for a fee of an initial £7m. Palaversa is an 18-year-old currently playing for Hajduk Split in the Prva Liga. Reportedly, City will loan the player back to Hajduk Split for the rest of the season, with the possibility of a further year to continue his development, if required.
Palaversa is regarded as one of Croatia’s most promising midfielders, so much so that Guardiola is ‘bewitched’ by him. Playing in a “number 8” role at Hajduk, there is a strong belief that he could be adapted to play in the “number 6” at City. Likened to Toni Kroos, Palaversa is very comfortable on the ball, with superb vision and a passing range to match, as well as being adept with both feet. So far this season, Palaversa completes 63 passes and 0.6 key passes per 90 minutes, with an 85% pass completion rate.
However, Palaversa has a tendency to sit deeper when Hajduk have the ball, spraying passes wide to the channels. Due to this, he could very easily dictate play from a deep lying position, being the midfield controller that Guardiola wanted from Jorginho in the summer.
Palaversa isn’t just a deep lying playmaker however, with 2.9 dribbles per 90 showing he has the ability to drive forward with the ball until he unleashes powerful and accurate strikes from outside of the box. His defensive output also shouldn’t be ignored, with 3.4 tackles and 3.1 interceptions per 90, as well as winning 61% of his duels.
Hajduk have played Palaversa across their midfield so far this season, with 6 starts in attacking midfield, 4 as the “number 6” and 2 in a central midfield role. With Guardiola being keen on having players who can play a variety of roles and positions, it would seem Palaversa is the perfect fit in this City team, even if it is a while before we see him take to the pitch.
Whilst only making his debut for his club side this season, Palaversa has already established himself as the captain of the Croatian U19’s, playing 11 times and scoring 3 goals. Observers in Croatia have also been impressed by his maturity and focus on his career, rather than life off the field. He may not be the flashy signing that De Jong or Ndombele would be, but he certainly seems capable of succeeding the Brazilian in the future.
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