The order of the day at the moment for new Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou appears to be improving their leaky backline.
The Hoops have been linked with a number of central defenders, with talks believed to be underway on a few fresh faces.
However, according to a report from The Scottish Sun, they are also in negotiations to sign Mario Vuskovic.
The 19-year-old currently plays for Hajduk Split in Croatia, where he’s become one of the most promising young defenders in the country.
The teenager is thought to be valued at around £5m as the Hoops step up their pursuit this summer.
Brendan Rodgers only had Filip Benkovic for one season at Celtic but, when he wasn’t injured, the young Croat made a fabulous impact next to Kristoffer Ajer in their backline. Like the Norwegian, Benkovic is a ball-playing centre-half and a colossus in the air, someone used to bullying opponents in physical situations.
During his stay in Glasgow, he completed over 90% of his passes and won a mighty 4.3 aerial duels per game. He has since improved in that regard, prevailing in 5.1 aerial battles per match after moving to Bristol City on loan in the second tier of English football.
Not only does Vuskovic hail from the same country as Benkovic; he possesses a similar range of statistics. Standing at 1.89m (6 foot 2), he’s not the tallest centre-half around, but that doesn’t seem to deter him from defensive duels.
Assessing the numbers, the teenager wins 63% of his aerial duels per game, which is nearly 10% more than Stephen Welsh. Vuskovic also wins a fraction more defensive duels per match than both Shane Duffy and Nir Bitton did last term.
A classic modern-day defender, he is also eye-catching in possession and has an eye for goal, particularly from dead ball situations.
After being included in The Guardian’s Next-Gen list of 2018, reporter Aleksandar Holiga commented: “He’s not just dominant in challenges but also exceptional in build-up play. He often scores goals and can score from free kicks like a No 10.”
🇭🇷 | Mario Vušković
Talk of Mario Vušković beginning to pick up pace now with further sources reporting ongoing talks.@Glongari is now reporting Celtic are set to make an official bid of £5M for the Hajduk Split centre-back.pic.twitter.com/Qk6tGD0dMB
— Everything Celtic (@aboutceltic) June 24, 2021
It’s not often you see a defender curl in a free-kick like the one above but that only proves that, at £5m, he’d be a mere snip for the quality at his disposal.
Calm and composed with the ball at his feet, his modern day attributes would go a long way to replacing the influence of Benkovic and also Ajer if he finally departs Celtic.