West Ham United increased their Fantasy Premier League (FPL) attacking options on transfer deadline-day with the signing of Nikola Vlasic (£6.0m) from CSKA Moscow.
The Hammers paid £26.8m, plus £7.7m in add-ons, for the 23-year-old Croatia international.
Due to the club’s involvement in European competition, which commences between Gameweeks 4 and 5 in FPL, David Moyes had been keen to add to his squad with Michail Antonio (£7.9m) his only senior striker and Jesse Lingard (£6.9m) having returned to Manchester United following his loan spell last season.
Boss Moyes has long admired Vlasic, and said of his capture:
“I have been watching Nikola improve over recent seasons – he has got a good goals and assists record during that time. He is also a Croatia international with experience and still being only 23, I feel there is more to come from him.
“I was really impressed with how determined Nikola was to become a West Ham player. It’s that hunger and ambition that fits with what we are trying to build here at the Club.”
Many will remember Vlasic from his unremarkable two-year spell at Everton which ended in 2019, but how has he developed since, where does he fit in at West Ham and what does it mean for Said Benrahma (£6.4m) in FPL?
We’ll attempt to answer those questions in this Scout Report.
Nikola Vlasic started his career with NK Omladinac before moving to Hadjuk Split in 2010, where he excelled in the academy set-up and scored on his first-team debut at just 16 years old.
By the season’s end, he had made 37 appearances and scored four goals, still well short of his 18th birthday.
Those performances earned him a move to Everton in 2017 for a fee of around £8m, having impressed then Toffees manager Ronald Koeman in a UEFA Europa League tie. Upon his arrival at Goodison Park, he was tipped for big things, but struggled for game-time under Sam Allardyce who replaced the outgoing Dutchman.
In an interview with The Athletic, Vlasic spoke about the difficulties he faced under Allardyce, citing a more defensive approach as a key reason why he struggled:
“It was hard. The hardest was when we would play 4-4-2. I would be on the right wing but it was more right wing-back because we were so defensive. I played three or four times under Allardyce and I felt like I was a full-back. It was the first experience for me in that position and I felt so bad because I had never played winger before. It was a difficult season but it only made me better.”
He went on to make just 19 appearances in an underwhelming two-year spell at Everton, before he joined CSKA Moscow for the 2018/19 season, which is where he took his game to a new level.
In 108 games for CSKA in all competitions, he has been directly involved in 54 goals, has featured in both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League and was named Russian Premier League Footballer of the Year in 2020. He was also involved in one of the clubs most iconic moments, a historic UEFA Champions League double over Real Madrid.
|2014/15||Hajduk Split||22 (5)||3||3|
|2015/16||Hajduk Split||22 (1)||1||4|
|2016/17||Hajduk Split||27 (3)||4||7|
|2017/18||Hajduk Split||5 (1)||3||0|
|2021/22||CSKA Moscow||3 (2)||0||1|
At international level, Vlasic has been capped 26 times by Croatia, netting six goals, with four of those appearances arriving at EURO 2020 where he scored in the 3-1 win over Scotland.
PROFILE AND STATISTICS
Vlasic is a versatile attacking midfielder, who can operate on either flank but is at his best through the middle as a classic no. 10.
He is a dribbler, creator and also has a keen eye for goal, having scored 11 goals in 26 Russian Premier League matches last term. His 2020/21 shot map also suggests that he isn’t afraid to try his luck from distance.
Last season’s numbers were particularly impressive.
His 103 goal attempts total was more than any other player in the Russian top flight, while his 73 key passes ranked second, highlighting his potential to offer both goal and assist points in FPL.
However, we should point out the he did have a share of dead-ball duties at CSKA, with three of last season’s 11 goals arriving from the spot.