24 Jun 2016

'Next Messi' to Anfield? Klopp phones 'fantastic' €15m sensation who's 'better than Modric'

Last month, Croatian newspaper Sportski Novotni claimed that Liverpool are 'ready to offer' €15m to sign Dinamo Zagreb attacker Ante Coric, and new reports this week suggest that Jurgen Klopp is actively involved in trying to persuade the 19-year old to sign for Liverpool.

According to the Daily Mail:

"Liverpool have expressed interest in the Ante Coric. Zagreb want £10m plus add-ons and believe Liverpool would pay their valuation. Jurgen Klopp [has] already spoken to Coric".

Some info about Coric, dubiously hailed as...yes, you've guessed it, the 'Next Messi':

* 19-year old attacking midfielder, whose current contract expires in 2020.

* Dinamo Zagreb: 11 goals/15 assists in 80 apps (One every 155 mins). Last season: 5 goals/6 assists in 41 apps (One every 211 mins)

* Jan 2016: Number 14 on Gazetta Dello Sport's top 50 European U20 players.

* Feb 2015: Scouting Report from UEFA.com (Strengths): "Great ball control. Smooth dribbling style, creativity and fantastic vision. Speed is another strength. Persistent goal threat".

* Jan 2016: Dinamo Zagreb coach Zoran Mamić raved: "Ante is a treasure for our club. He is a better talent than Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić were at his age."

* Jan 2016: DZ President Zdravko Mamić told reporters: "He [Coric] is better than Zvonimir Boban or Robert Prosinečki were at the same stage. I am impressed."

* Apr 2015: When asked about his preferred position, Coric told Gol.hr: "I like to play in the middle, of course offensive, behind the strikers, between the wings. The Number 10 role is my favorite."

As unenthused as I am about Liverpool trying to sign another teenager, the deal makes a modicum of sense. With no European football next season, Klopp (arguably) has little chance of signing a proven, top-class number-10 to challenge Coutinho, Lallana, and Firmino. As such, a teenager will - in theory - fit perfectly into the Anfield pecking order.

That said, even at the age of 19, Coric is a regular for Zagreb (41 apps this season), and I doubt he'll want to stunt his development by spending most of the season on Liverpool's bench, which, given the reduced fixture list next season, is a distinct possibility.

Given the hype over Coric, there are bound to be other top clubs scrambling to sign him, and they may be able to offer European football. On the other hand, Klopp may permanently convert Firmino to centre-forward next season, which will slightly reduce the competition in the attacking midfield ranks.

A good transfer target?

Author: Jaimie K


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