Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake sign defender Toni Datkovic from Aris Thessaloniki

Lizzy Becherano
New Real Salt Lake player Toni Datkovic
New Real Salt Lake player Toni Datkovic / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

MLS side Real Salt Lake acquired defender Toni Datkovic from Greek Super League team Aris Thessaloniki on a two-year contract, the club announced Wednesday. 

The 27-year old defender joined Aris Thessaloniki last year, making four overall appearances with the club before heading to FC Cartagena on loan. Datkovic appeared 19 times for the Spanish second tier club, adding to his international experience. 

“We want to welcome Toni to the team and bring him into a good crop of center backs. We think he can continue to help us grow and push the team further and fits the profile of our roster as a positive and humble player,” head coach Freddy Juarez said.

“He comes with a good pedigree and is a talented left-footed center back that can help us in distribution but also raise the quality of defending. Anytime we can add players that can help us grow in our style of play and push competition in our team, it’s a good thing.”

In addition to his career in Greece, Datkovic also gained experience in Spain, Croatia and Slovenia. The defender made his senior international debut in 2017, playing for the Croatian national team. 

“Toni is an excellent addition to our defensive core,” GM Elliot Fall said in a club statement. “He will provide another experienced, athletic option to our roster. We can’t wait to get him on the ground in Salt Lake and acclimate with the group.”

The player joins Real Salt Lake defenders Justen Glad and Marcelo Silva in the backline. The team has previously expressed the need for a player in the defense after suffering seven goals against this season alone. Real Salt Lake is currently placed eighth in the Western Conference with nine points in their first six games of the 2021 season.