Spain's title dreams may be over but in Dani Olmo, a GNK Dinamo Zagreb player "better than Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinečki" at the same age, the future is bright.
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UEFA.com continues its weekly wonderkid feature by looking at Dani Olmo, who plies his trade in Croatia but has been making a splash with Spain at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship before their quarter-final exit on Friday.
Name: Dani Olmo
Club: GNK Dinamo Zagreb
League debut: 7 February 2015 v NK Lokomotiva Zagreb
Position: winger/second striker
Date of birth: 7 May 1998
Preferred foot: right
They say …
"Dani Olmo is a very important player for the squad, both in footballing terms and because of his personality, which makes him good to have around. He's playing and training with the first team [at Dinamo Zagreb], with men, which gives him a bit of an edge too."
Spain coach Santi Denia speaking to UEFA.com at the UEFA European U17 Championship in Bulgaria
"Dani Olmo is fantastic and a great talent. He is better than Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinečki whenthey were his age."
Dinamo president Zdravko Mamić
An FC Barcelona youth product, having joined from RCD Espanyol in 2007, Olmo moved to Dinamo in summer 2014 as an apparent replacement for Alen Halilović, who had just left for Barça. "The change was quite a big one – leaving Barcelona is never an easy decision – but I'm very happy at Dinamo," said Olmo. "At the beginning it was tough because I didn't speak good English and knew no Croatian at all, but now my English is much better and I'm improving my Croatian all the time too."
Playing style …
Equally comfortable as a winger, striker or No10, Olmo is stronger on the right side but can also do a job on the opposite flank. "He can attack down the outside or cut inside," said Denia. "When he was younger he was always a centre-forward. His versatility gives you a lot of options."
A blend of …
"I'm not a big fan of making comparisons, as they can be dangerous, but in terms of one-on-one ability he reminds me of Gerard Deulofeu," added Denia. "He's got the skill to beat a defender and get to the byline, or to cut inside and get off a shot himself."
Eureka moment …
Though he made his Croatian First League debut for Dinamo when coming off the bench against Lokomotiva Zagreb in February, Olmo will also have fond memories of the atmosphere he witnessed as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at rivals HNK Hajduk Split in March.
Best-case scenario ...
Luka Modrić and Mario Mandžukić are just two in a long line of players to have shone at Dinamo before going on to build lucrative careers in higher-profile European leagues. Olmo is likely to have his sights on embarking on a similar journey eventually. "If he keeps working hard I'm sure he's going to make it as a professional – he's certainly got what it takes," said Denia.
He says …
"I'm happy playing anywhere – wherever the coach puts me I do my best to do a job for the team. Here [in Bulgaria] I've been playing out wide, but with Dinamo I play as a second striker or No10 in order to dictate more of the play. In that position I get on the ball more and have more chances to get involved."