Liverpool unearth their answer to Ibrahimovic: Nikola Saric

Despite a disappointing season by their standards, with the team constantly blowing hot and cold both domestically and in Europe, Liverpool have a bright future ahead of them, particularly in the striking department. Dani Pacheco and Lauri Dalla Valle in particular, look to be excellent prospects but there is another striker with a bright future, who has not received the attention of the aforementioned duo. This is Nikola Saric, the 19 year old Bosnian/Danish prodigy whose ability and potential has earned comparisons with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Fernando Torres.

Saric was signed by Liverpool from Danish club Herfolge in 2008, signing a three year deal at Anfield. Highly rated in Denmark, Saric and was voted the U-17 player of the year in 2007 and has represented his adopted country at U-16, U-17 and U-18 level.

Saric was born in Sarajevo, but left his home country when war broke out in Bosnia and his family fled to Denmark as refugees. The 19 year old made three league appearances for Herfolge and was regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in Danish football before being snapped up by Liverpool, who beat out the likes of Barcelona and Tottenham for his signature.

Unfortunately, the talented striker has been dogged by injuries in his time so far at Anfield. A persistent knee injury kept Saric out for most of last season, restricting him to a handful of reserve team games. The striker has returned to action recently though, scoring an injury-time equaliser for the reserves against Man City back in January and coming off the bench in the last three games for the reserves, who have only lost once this season in 12 games.

So what’s the fuss about Nikola Saric? Left footed, the 19 year old is extremely versatile and can play on the left or right wing or as a central striker. He is naturally gifted and has been described as one of Europe’s most promising talents. In terms of comparisons, Saric has been likened to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, purely because of the Balkan heritage he shares with the Barcelona star, (Ibrahimovic is of Bosnian and Croatian parentage). Saric has similar traits to Ibrahimovic, in terms of his ball skills, height and finishing in front of goal. The Danish prodigy has also been likened to teammate Fernando Torres, in terms of his playing style.

Saric is yet to make an appearance in Liverpool’s first team, mainly because he has been so injury-prone so far in his Liverpool career, but the youngster is remaining positive, saying back in February:

“My plans were spoiled a lot when I was injured for eight months.

The first year, you have to adopt to the playing style and get to know the team-mates, that is still new for me.

I don’t think so much about the first team. In case I am good enough, I will get there, but right now there are some players ahead of me.”

Saric will be competing with fellow striking prodigies Pacheco and Dalla Valle to break through into the first team at Anfield next season, but if he can manage to stay fit, then it is a possibility that we could see the Dane make a few substitute appearances next season for Liverpool, just like Pacheco has in this campaign. It all depends whether Saric can stay healthy and start showing Rafael Benitez some of that obvious potential that made the Liverpool boss sign him from Herfolge two years ago.

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