Looking to follow in the footsteps of Brazil legend Ronaldinho and having already attracted the interest of Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Barcelona and Roma, 17-year-old Ante Coric is seen as one of the brightest talents to emerge from Croatia in recent years and looks destined to have a very big future.
With excellent skill, great close control, awareness, creativity and the ability to make quick turns, Dinamo Zagreb’s young attacking midfielder is a very exciting talent.
Stronger on his right foot and comfortable on his left, his all-round ability is extremely impressive. He also possesses the technical ability and vision of someone much older, making him a very dangerous opponent as he bursts forward from deep, ready to skip past defenders or flick a neat pass on to create an opportunity for a teammate.
Coric has already been compared to Croatia legends Zvonimir Boban, who captained the national team to a third place finish in the 1998 World Cup and, in particular, Robert Prosinecki, who won three straight league titles with Dinamo. However, the starlet has remained rooted to the ground and is determined to keep developing.
"Come on, I am way behind them!” he told Goal. “I have to work, train and learn a lot to be compared to them. But then again, someday, who knows. ... My role model is Ronaldinho."
The teenager emerged in the Dinamo first team toward the end of last season as the Croatian side marched toward a ninth consecutive league title and has started the current campaign brightly, with Zoran Mamic’s men having opened the campaign with a 10-game unbeaten streak.
Coming on to make his Europa League debut in the dying minutes of the second leg of their qualifier with Petrolul Ploiesti, one minute was all he needed to make a vital contribution, setting up the winner in a 2-1 victory for his side. The teenager then capped off a fine team display when he netted the final goal in a 5-1 win over Astra Giurgiu, becoming the fourth-youngest scorer in the competition’s history.
Coric, the son of coach Miljenko, has been seen as one destined for great heights even in his formative years. Taken on trial by Chelsea and Bayern, the youngster achieved maximum points in the speed, technique and tactical tests the German club runs on players, something no other player had achieved before.
Coric, though, was not happy with the way he was treated in England and he turned down the advances of both giants, opting to join Red Bull Salzburg at 11 years old.
"I wanted to join Red Bull because players here are better than those in Bayern, Barcelona or Chelsea,” he said at the time. “We train better and more often in Salzburg. Also, I received a warm welcome in Salzburg, unlike in England."
After attracting even further interest, the youngster opted to return to his homeland in June 2013, with Dinamo acquiring his services for 900,000 euros. It did not take long for Coric to make an impact, as he scored against NK Istra in the penultimate game of the campaign. The current season has seen the precocious Croat continue his impressive form with an excellent display in his side’s 3-2 win away against rival Hajduk Split, with even the home support applauding him.
The Zagreb-born player’s exploits in the Dinamo first team have seen him fast-tracked through the national team setup. He was thrown into the Under 18s team at just 16 and it took only months for him to be promoted to the Under-21 squad. It seems he will not have to wait too long to get his chance in the senior side.
The young player’s career has so far been a quick and exciting journey. As he continues to develop with first-team opportunities in the Croatian top flight and the Europa League, it seems only a matter of time before the likes of Bayern, Chelsea, Roma and Barcelona come calling again. A move to such a European giant will be a logical step for a youngster who looks set to become a world star.