Manchester City signed Hajduk Split’s Ante Palaversa in January, but the 19-year-old spent the rest of the season at his boyhood club to continue his development. With the Citizens chasing a long-term replacement for Fernandinho this summer, could Pep Guardiola have already found his man?
Here’s everything you need to know about the Croatian midfielder…
The youngster was born in Split in the year 2000 and has grown up to play for his city in the top division of Croatian football.
He made his debut in a defeat against HNK Gorica and has been a regular presence in the first team ever since his promotion handed to him by manager Sinisa Orescanin.
Palaversa told the club’s website: “I can only say that this is my dream come true. As a kid, when I played “street football” like any child of the city, I dreamed of this happening, that I become a member of the first Hajduk team.”
Palaversa’s signing for Manchester City won’t surprise anyone once they’ve seen what this player has to offer. Of course, comparing performances in the HNL to those of players in the Premier League is perhaps a mismatch, but on first viewing his starring attributes certainly encapsulates everything Guardiola has wanted in his holding midfielders over his managerial career.
At 6 ft 1 he’s certainly got a physical presence, and isn’t slowed down one bit by his stature. He’s strong in recovery and will happily go to ground for a challenge, but his commitments to the defensive phases of the game have not hindered his progression in his distribution, boasting the ability to pass ball neatly and efficiently to ignite attacks for his side.
He drops from his midfield role to receive the ball from his defenders and possesses a wonderful range of passing – a responsibility Guardiola places high in priority, as seen in his use of Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso and Fernandinho over the years. Palaversa looks very comfortable contributing to all phases of play and this versatility will be crucial for any long-term project of Pep’s.
The City-bound midfielder has had a busy campaign, and he was certainly rewarded for his hard-work when Manchester came calling.
Palaversa was an important player for his club last season, making 30 appearances for the Croatian side including one in Europa League qualifying. The youngster has an almost impeccable disciplinary record considering his tenacious nature and ball-winning role he adopts in every game he plays. He’s only received one yellow card all season, and hasn’t been sent off at all.
Going forward he’s not been too efficient, scoring just two goals and getting one assist, though it’s not expected of him to be adding grand tallies to these particular statistics.
Palaversa’s career took a huge step towards the pinnacle of football when Man City came calling in January 2019, with a £7m deal agreed to bring the midfield starlet to the Etihad at the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign.
Nikola Kalinic: He found his best form at Fiorentina, and has also played for AC Milan. Now currently at La Liga runners-up Atletico Madrid. Another to make his name initially at Split.
Nikola Vlasic: Came through the ranks in Split, signed for Everton and has just completed a successful loan spell with CSKA Moscow.
Nikica Jelavic: Went on to enjoy a career in British football after starting with Split, playing for Scottish giants Rangers before moving to Everton, Hull and then West Ham. Currently playing in China for Guizhou Zhicheng.
From 6-0 FA Cup final maulings to Mkhitaryan missing the the Europa League final, is football broken? Fans discuss in the video below…
Unfortunately for Man City fans, the youngster is likely not to feature at all until the 2020-21 season, with the loan deal currently in place keeping him for another whole season in Split.
The wait could be cut short though, as City have planned ahead and managed to negotiate a recall clause that comes into effect in January 2020.
He will therefore contest the first round of the Europa League, which will be great experience for the youngster, as well as allowing him to play at the highest level of Croatian football once again.