This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
Everton signed Nikolas Vlasic from Hajduk Split in 2017 for £10million, after Ronald Koeman and former Director of Football Steve Walsh were left impressed by the teenager’s efforts against the Blues in the Europa League earlier that summer (BBC).
But the move did not pay off for Everton, and once Koeman was fired in October, Sam Allardyce made swift work of scrubbing the Croatian’s name from his teamsheet.
The one-time England boss would only turn to the forward eight times in the Premier League between his arrival and departure (TransferMarkt), and often chose to leave the youngster watching the action at home rather than from the dugout.
Twelve league outings in all, zero goals and zero assists read Vlasic’s record after a year at Goodison Park and Marco Silva and new Director of Football Marcel Brands shipped the forward off to Russia on loan.
A season with CSKA Moscow saw Vlasic back among the goals, with the playmaker scoring eight times and carving out a further seven for his temporary teammates across all competitions, and appearing to get his career back on track after the troubles of life with Everton.
Chances of earning minutes at Goodison Park again were still slim, though, as Gylfi Sigurdsson was coming off a 13 goal, six assist Premier League campaign that saw the Iceland international join Richarlison at the top of the Blues’ goal charts (WhoScored).
Everton’s decision? To cash in on Vlasic’s return to form for a quick £4m profit after CSKA Moscow offered £14m (BBC) to the Merseyside outfit and a five-year contract to the attacking midfielder.
However, their decision may have come too soon, as Sigurdsson has not been able to replicate his efforts from last term, while Vlasic has maintained his to hit five goals and three assists across all competitions for CSKA already this season.
The 22-year-old also returned to international duty with the senior Croatia squad in September after two games in the U21s, and marked his return with a goal against Slovakia (TransferMarkt).
The October internationals saw Vlasic again called upon by boss Zlatko Dalic, who started the forward in the core of his attacking unit against Wales last Sunday, and saw his faith rewarded with the opening goal in the ninth minute before Gareth Bale would equalise in first-half stoppage-time.
Real Madrid’s Bale may have been a Man of the Match contender from the game, but Vlasic offered more than just his goal, too, as WhoScored noted the 22-year-old playing one key ball amid 27 accurate passes from 30 attempts. He also contributed a joint-game-high two successful tackles and recorded more touches than Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic.
Vlasic has been a creative threat in Russia throughout the campaign, as well, with an average 2.6 key passes per ninety minutes, 3.1 shots and 4.2 dribbles, plus 2.7 tackles and 1.4 passes blocked as he defends from the front.
Everton could do with an outlet in attack such as Vlasic in their current situation, where Sigurdsson has seen his efforts put into question by former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino after only recording one assist in eight Premier League games (WhoScored, prior to this weekend’s fixtures).
Speaking on talkSPORT (13/10/2019, 09:00), he said: “Sigurdsson was let go by Tottenham, they chose for him to go to Swansea, and he’s a talented lad, he’s superbly technically. But as a regular consistent Premier League performer, I wouldn’t say he ticks that box for me.”
If Sigurdsson cannot find the consistency which saw him thrive last season, Everton’s decision to sell Vlasic for a quick profit and leave Silva without a second natural attacking midfielder may come back to haunt the Portuguese head coach.
Everton fans, did Vlasic deserve a second chance at Goodison Park? Let us know in the comments below…
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