"He would have become a brilliant runner if he had continued with athletics," said Josip Brekalo's old coach, but the Wolfsburg teenager has much more than pace.
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A summer signing from Dinamo Zagreb, 18-year-old Josip Brekalo is being tipped to be a star forward following his first few weeks at Wolfsburg.
Name: Josip Brekalo
Debut: 19 December 2015, Dinamo Zagreb v Inter Zaprešić (Croatian First League)
Date of birth: 23/06/1998
Preferred foot: right
They say ...
"Josip is a very quick player, who thrives in one-on-one situations. He is the perfect addition to our attack, as he gives us a lot more versatility going forward."
Dieter Hecking, Wolfsburg coach
"We are delighted he chose to move to Wolfsburg, as he is a very talented player at the beginning of his development and has a promising future ahead of him. We will give him the time he needs to establish himself."
Klaus Allofs, Wolfsburg sporting director
"He would have become a brilliant runner if he had continued with athletics."
Slavko Petrović, Brekalo's former athletics coach
Born in Zagreb, Brekalo came through the ranks at local titans Dinamo, for whom he made five appearances in the UEFA Youth League, scoring three goals. Awarded his senior Dinamo debut in December 2015, Brekalo managed eight league and three cup outings last season, including the second leg of the cup semi-final against Hajduk Split – where he claimed his first senior goal in a 4-0 victory. His impressive showings persuaded Wolfsburg to prise him away this summer.
Playing style ...
A talented 800m runner growing up, his speed is one of his biggest assets. Brekalo plays on the left but is always eager to cut inside and have a shot at goal.
Shades of ...
Wolfsburg lost some pace on the flanks with André Schürrle's departure for Dortmund, yet in Brekalo they have a player with the potential to fill that gap. His control and eye for goal have attracted comparisons to another brilliant Bundesliga winger, Arjen Robben.
Eureka moment ...
The teenager left a lasting impression in Germany when he netted in Dinamo's 2-1 UEFA Youth League win at Bayern München on 29 September 2015. He may be facing Bayern again before too long.
Best-case scenario ...
Fast, calm on the ball and a fine dribbler, Brekalo possesses the raw talent required to become a brilliant attacker. Still just 18, he will try to battle his way into Wolfsburg's plans and help them return to European football next term.
He says ...
"I always dreamt of playing in the Bundesliga and I am looking forward to my future at the club. Of course, I know where I stand. I'm only 18. I want to play as often as I can, score some goals, and then my time will come."