Player Profile – Getting To Know Andrej Kramaric

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Updated: January 2, 2015

In the recent weeks, Chelsea and Juventus have been linked extensively to Andrej Kramaric, a 23 year old Croatian striker who has plundered goals for fun at every level he has played at so far. Now the FC Rijeka striker is arguably the most in-demand young striker in Europe along with Aleksander Mitrovic, outside of the top leagues. The fee Chelsea that have reportedly offered formally for the young Croat is around £7.5M, a worthy bargain for a player with a huge potential upside. But the important question is, what is Kramaric like? Is he a fox-in-the-box or a workhorse? A target-man or a complete striker? So join us, as we look at his credentials and his playing style, and try to gauge whether he will improve Chelsea’s frontline or Vitesse’s.

Coming out of the Dinamo Zagreb academy, he still holds the record for being the most prolific goalscorer for the youth ranks of the club, with him having scored about 400 youth goals in his time there. He was gradually phased into the first team for whom he has scored 10 goals in 42 appearances. He was also loaned out to Lokomotiva for whom he netted no less than 24 times in 50 first division games. His departure from Dinamo to his current club FC Rijeka was somewhat unceremonious. Despite him having a clear reputation as a star in the making, he was not afforded enough first team opportunities for the Zagreb-based giants. The reason some say is that his father, also his agent, didn’t wish for him to come under the influence of agents and refused to let him sign for the club chief executive Zdravko Mamic’s management company.

Dinamo’s loss was Rijeka’s gain. He joined the coastal side and found the conditions conducive for going on a scoring spree. His exploits caused a complete makeover of FC Rijeka as he turned them into genuine title contenders, also leading them to their third ever Croatian Cup victory in the final against his former club Dinamo Zagreb. His goal return has been superb with 37 league goals in 44 appearances for FC Rijeka in his two seasons at the club. His Europa League record against superior sides too has been exemplary, with 7 goals in 12 games this season.

Now, with him scoring goals at such a rate, you might be tempted to think of him as either a physical bully like Lukaku was in the Jupiler League, scoring goals by virtue of being a physical specimen, or a classic poacher, a fox-in-the-box. But either description is untrue. At 5”11, he is not like Lukaku. Kramaric likes to get involved in the game, with his control of the ball exemplary. Dribbling is a major strength and he likes to dart past defenders with a keen striker’s instinct. Another trend he has shown in his relatively short career so far is the keenness to slot the ball in the corner of the net. He is extremely calm and composed in front of the goal and is not unnerved in front of goal.

While he is not starting quality at a club like Chelsea, he has the quality to be a first teamer at such a level in the near future. It has been in the news that Leicester City too have been interested in Kramaric. While Chelsea would do well to snap up the Croat as a long term investment, like they show a tendency to do, but a loan would probably serve him well for the remainder of the season. Instead of sending him on the much traversed path to Vitesse, why not loan him to Leicester? They need him, he will improve them and all the while gain a first-hand experience of the Premier League.

Author’s Note: Statistics have been sourced from Wikipedia.

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