West Ham

Nikola Vlasic: Things to know

Max Cooper
Vlasic is set for a move to West Ham
Vlasic is set for a move to West Ham / Epsilon/Getty Images

Nikola Vlasic is a full Croatian international with more than 25 caps, who has even spent a brief period in the Premier League, and yet his career has flown largely under the radar.

The 23-year-old is currently plying his trade in the Russian Premier League with CSKA Moscow, and it's safe to say he's absolutely tearing it up out there.

In fact, he's done the business so consistently and spectacularly that he's attracting interest from England once again, with West Ham close to agreeing a huge €30m deal for the Croatian star.

So, what is there to know about Vlasic?

1. Versatile forward

Capable of doing everything / JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

Vlasic is a manager's dream in the final third, given his versatility and ability to play in any position across the front. He has performed as a centre forward, attacking midfielder or winger on either flank, showing a great understanding of each role.

He is at his best when occupying the space in behind the striker however, creating chances as an adventurous attacking midfielder. He has a tendency to drift to the left and then cut inside, allowing him to pop shots off at goal.

That style suits West Ham's style of play excellently, as his high work rate and strong physical attributes lend him to David Moyes' high-pressing, high-energy football.

2. Family sporting heritage

Blanka Vlasic
Runs in the family / Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

It's not only Nikola who has made his mark on the world of sport. The forward must thank his father for his impressive genes, which he passed on to both the CSKA star and his sister.

Josko Vlasic was a decathlete when he competed and won the gold medal in the decathlon event at the 1983 Mediterranean games. Once he retired, Josko became a coach and now oversees the progress of Nikola's sister, Blanka.

Blanka is a two-time world champion high jumper, winning two Olympic medals in her career while ranking as the all-time joint second highest female jumper in the sport.

3. Premier League redemption

Nikola Vlasic
Not up to standard / Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Vlasic is edging closer to a move to West Ham, but It wouldn't be the first time he has graced the Premier League's shores. The midfielder joined Everton in 2018 for around £10m and hopes were high for the Hajduk Split starlet.

The Croatian did not enjoy a successful spell in England however, struggling to adapt to the English game, scoring a grand total of zero Premier League goals in his 12 appearances.

He was shipped off to CSKA on an initial loan deal after only one year, and after proving his worth there, the Russian side made the temporary move permanent.

4. Midfield goal machine

A goal machine / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

So, having been branded a flop and becoming quickly forgotten in England (out of sight, out of mind and all that) many assumed that was the end of Vlasic's career.

Instead, he has flourished in Russia, demonstrating all the potential that the Toffees had seen in him four years ago. He bagged 12 goals and five assists in the 2019/20 campaign, and 11 goals and five assists the season after.

He managed all of that from the attacking midfield position, showing his keen eye for a pass and nose for the goal. Forget the dodgy spell at Everton, this boy is a real talent.

5. A recognised talent

Those performances saw him recognised as the biggest talent in Russia last year. In December 2020, Vlasic was named Russian Premier League, Russian Football Union and Footballer of the Year.

He had also attracted interest from around Europe, with Napoli and Milan holding talks over a possible move for the superstar. However, CSKA stood firm and refused to allow him to leave.

It seems as if Vlasic is finally going to earn that move though, and is ready to show the Premier League what he can do, four years after struggling on the big stage.