Adam Hlozek: Europe's biggest clubs queuing up to sign Czech teen sensation

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The 17-year-old has already made 50 appearances for the Sparta Prague first team having previously turned down Arsenal and Bayern Munich

Czech football may have gone through a fallow period over the last 10 years following their relative success of the 1990s and 2000s, but it seems their ability to develop potentially world-class talents has not left them quite yet.

Pavel Nedved, Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky were all among the game's best players in their respective positions at their peaks, and now the next great hope of the Czech game is about to emerge onto the global stage.

Adam Hlozek has been watched by pretty much every top European club over the past three years. Even though he will not turn 18 until July, the youngest player in Sparta Prague's history is already a veteran of 50 senior matches and being linked with a lucrative summer switch.

However, Rosicky, who now works as sporting director at Sparta, is urging caution.

"I think it's early for him to go somewhere," the former Arsenal ace told iSport in a recent interview. "Let's be patient; let him grow up. He is 17 and if he continues to grow, he will not miss out on moving abroad.

"If something happens, which I don't expect, it will be too soon for him."

If Rosicky is proven right, it will be testament to the loyalty Hlozek has shown his boyhood club ever since he joined Sparta at the age of 12.

He was signed as part of a package deal which also saw his brother, Daniel, arrive at the club's academy, though his elder sibling's dream of reaching the top was tragically cut short.

In 2015, Daniel was diagnosed with a small brain tumour, and though he attempted to play through the illness for around a year, he was forced into premature retirement at the age of 18.

Two years later, he was able to get his boots back on and represent a lower-level club in his hometown of Ivancice, but Adam is now trying to make it in the professional game as much for his brother as himself.

"I dare say that a world-class player is growing here," veteran agent Pavel Paska, who represents Hlozek, told iDNES in 2018. "When he was 12, I said to Mr (Daniel) Kretinsky, the owner of Sparta: 'His brother Daniel is excellent, I recommend him to you, but you must definitely have the younger Hlozek.'

"As an exaggeration, I added: 'This is a player for Real Madrid and Barcelona.'"

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The younger Hlozek made an immediate impact at Sparta, and quickly began climbing through the various age-group sides.

By the age of 15, he was already training with club's Under-19 side, and it was at that time that he was invited for trials at both Arsenal and Bayern Munich, with his performances at the latter reportedly as impressive as the Bundesliga outfit have ever seen from a player so young.

Both clubs made offers, while Chelsea and Manchester United were also understood to be keen. Paska, though, was keen to ensure his young client remained in his homeland.

"Before he signed his first contract with Sparta at the age of 15, scouts from all over Europe put enormous pressure on him, saying: 'Come to us; we will make you a star!'" Paska said. "It is not easy to reject Arsenal or Bayern.

"We know where to go and where we want to go. Certainly not to foreign academies, where the boys get a youth contract. Our journey is Czech.

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"Most of all, I had to convince the parents of my arguments: While abroad, Adam will stay in the juniors and then go onto play in lesser competitions to earn experience. Here, he will play in the league for Sparta at the age of 16."

Paska was proven right.

Hlozek, having played just a handful of U19s matches, made his first-team debut in October 2018 as a substitute in Sparta's MOL Cup clash with Slavoj Polna. The youngest player in the club's history at 16 years and 70 days, he marked it with a goal in injury time to seal a 4-1 victory.

Just a month later, he would make his league bow before, in March 2019, he became the Fortuna Liga's youngest-ever goalscorer after netting with a strong header against defending champions Viktoria Plzen.

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"Adam had no fear," said his coach at the time, Zdenek Scasny. "In training, he looks as strong as in a match. He’s an extraordinary talent that doesn’t play just because he is 16, but because he has earned it."

By the end of the campaign Hlozek was a regular in Sparta's starting line-up, and played the full 90 minutes in each of the club's five play-off matches to bring the curtain down on the season. Despite interest from elsewhere, Rosicky pulled off something of a coup in extending his contract through to 2022.

This season, he has picked up where he left off, contributing five goals and eight assists in 27 games for the Sparta first team, playing predominantly as a winger.

Though right-footed, Hlozek has been used just as much off the left as he has his favoured side, while he can also play as a second striker, with his excellent heading ability allowing him to latch onto crosses in the box.

Clubs such as Bayern, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Ajax and RB Leipzig have all been mooted as potential landing spots for the Czech U21 international, and given the likely slump in the transfer market, more and more clubs are on the look out for young players with high ceilings who may be available for cheaper fees than more senior stars.

Hlozek certainly fits that description, and while Rosicky insists the great hope of Czech football will not be sold, the former Dortmund midfielder knows all too well that the calls of Europe's elite cannot be ignored for too long.

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