Every year since 2014, the British medium The Guardian publishes a list called Next Generation, in which 60 young players in world football stand out for their precocious and surprising performance in the minor divisions of their clubs and national teams. Some of them even add minutes with the first team, but the main objective of the list is to recognize the main promises in football.
The list is compiled by a diverse number of journalists and soccer analysts, who constantly follow the major soccer leagues not only in Europe but all over the world. Although any type of list can be subjective in nature, it is true that many of the players who have appeared on these lists in the past are today part of the football elite, such as:
- Ousmane Dembélé – Barcelona (Next Generation 2014)
- Luka Jović – Real Madrid (2014)
- Dayot Upamecano – Bayer München (2015)
- Manuel Locatelli – Juventus (2015)
- Dani Olmo – RB Leipzig (2015)
- Christian Pulisic – Chelsea (2015)
- Federico Valverde – Real Madrid (2015)
- Kai Havertz – Chelsea (2016)
- Gianluigi Donnarumma – PSG (2016)
- Matthijs de Ligt – Juventus (2016)
- Vinicius Júnior – Real Madrid (2017)
- Alphonso Davies – Bayern München (2017)
- Jadon Sancho – Manchester United (2017)
- Erling Haaland – Borussia Dortmund (2017)
- Ferrán Torres – Manchester City (2017)
- Mason Greenwood – Manchester United (2018)
- Eric García – Barcelona (2018)
- Eduardo Camavinga – Real Madrid (2019)
- Ansu Fati – Barcelona (2019)
- Pedri – Barcelona (2019)
- Jamal Musiala – Bayern München (2020)
Many Croatian players who are now part of the national team also appeared in previous editions, such as Nikola Vlašić (2014) and Josko Gvardiol (2019). Other Croatian players who were selected for the Next Generation roster were Ante Ćorić (2014), Davor Lovren (2015), Michele Sego and David Colina (2017), Antonio Marin and Mario Vušković (2018); and Bartol Barišić, Ivan Ćubelić, and Tomislav Duvnjak (2020).
This year, The Guardian has placed a Croatian player on the list, the Hajduk Split midfielder Marko Brkljača, born in Zadar on July 15th, 2004. This is how journalist Aleksandar Holiga describes Brkljača on The Guardian’s Next Generation 2021 list:
”A left-footed box-to-box midfielder in the vein of, say, Georginio Wijnaldum. Regarded the biggest national prospect of his generation by some distance, Marko Brkljača attracts immediate attention with a smooth first touch and impressive physical capacity. His coaches particularly praise his ability to withstand challenges against older and bigger opponents, but also his sense for timing runs from behind, which regularly gets him into goal-scoring positions. Juventus tried to sign him last winter but they are not the only big club interested. Hajduk will want him to establish himself in the first team before considering any offers and he will get his chance soon enough – he made his senior debut in a cup game in September”.
The 17-year-old Croatian midfielder has yet to make his senior debut but continues to add minutes for the Hajduk U-19 team, where he is currently playing the UEFA Youth League, and the Croatian U19’s. In a Croatian national team where the absence of the great Luka Modric will be felt in the coming years, it would not be bad for another Zadar-born midfielder to emerge as his successor. Let’s hope so!
The Croatian national team plays today against Cyprus for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at 8:45 p.m. Stay tuned for updates from Total Croatia News.
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