Nikola Vlasic is something of an enigma among Everton supporters. Clearly talented, the young Croatian midfielder didn’t exactly light the world on fire during his 19 appearances with Everton, but he has done that with loan club CSKA Moscow, leaving us all to wonder what might have been if he’d stuck around Finch Farm this season.
With 7 goals and 4 assists in just 20 games for the Russian club, Vlasic has caught the eye again, particularly for his performances in the Champions League against Real Madrid. With dribbling and passing skills for days, Niko (i.e. Pickles) looks ready-made for a Marco Silva midfield.
And yet, recent comments to an Eastern European media outlet seem to indicate that Vlasic did not have a good experience on Merseyside. Quotes are interpreted somewhat roughly via Google Translate.
Do you believe that Everton will count on you in the set next season?
Honestly, I do not believe.
Everton has spent $ 100 million last year on reinforcements. Only three players - Richarlison, Mina and Digne - paid about 90 million. Everton is therefore looking for great names and players from big clubs, like Barcelona, and so, by the way, they will be there.
Despite these immense investments, the team is currently in the 11th place, which means there will be new big purchases because I know they have firmly decided in the club that they will try to be the new Tottenham who will join the biggest league clubs. It is logical that it will be difficult for me to see the player who will strike one of the top six in the Premiership. This will require new £ 50m reinforcements. So I expect them to sell me as soon as they get their first bid.
That’s not encouraging. It sounds as if Nikola Vlasic thinks that Everton’s big summer investment in 2018 means they need to sell him to the highest bidder, which is at least somewhat inaccurate. Richarlison, Yerry Mina, and Lucas Digne don’t play the same position(s) as Vlasic, and it’s readily apparent that Gylfi Sigurdsson needs a true understudy and that Kieran Dowell wasn’t it.
How are you looking at your days at Everton? Where was the problem?
Everything changed after Koeman left. The football played under Big Sam was awful, if it could even be called football. I did not have the status or the minutes, and if I did, I did not know if I should be lucky or poor because I would only run the race again and again in the field without any action and desire to play. In such football I do not have a place. The football team was terrified by all, the fans mostly.
With this, Niko makes a reasonable assertion. Ronald Koeman chose to sign the player and was impressed by him, and it certainly isn’t Vlasic’s fault that Sam Allardyce played archaic football and didn’t rate him.
If there’s any good news, it’s that Vlasic doesn’t seem to hold any ill will towards Marco Silva or the Everton fans.
This season, Marco Silva raises a different, much nicer soccer, but no results. Had you been through the summer, maybe you could help?
Personally, I have nothing to do with Silva, since he had known Everton since the end of last year that he would take over Everton and watch what he has in the team and he could not see me because I did not play. During the summer he brought some, and this is a very expensive player, and logically that he did not feel a lot of trouble with me. It is true that Everton did not make an expected breakthrough, but at least fans now look at the normal football in which the guys through the action are trying to score and win.
And how are you now watching Everton as a club?
The club is great, the fans are very good and I do not have any bitterness in me. But they did not feel that they were very concerned about me, to somehow underestimate me because they came from the HNL. But when you bring three players out of Barcelona in a few days, then it’s clear that you do not have much care for those who came from the small league.
In all, Nikola Vlasic certainly raises some valid points regarding his treatment while at Everton, and it’s unfortunate for all parties that he seems discouraged about his long-term prospects at the club.
However, it’s disheartening to see a Blue out on loan talk openly about the fans not being concerned about him, or people underestimating him. In many ways, it calls to mind every time Romelu Lukaku would go out on Belgium duty and give awkward interviews to the foreign press. Just because you’re in a different country and not speaking English doesn’t mean we won’t find out what you said, guys.
Nikola Vlasic can be successful at Everton, and Everton can be successful with him. The 21 year old has shown as much during his loan spell. Vlasic’s got the goods, and Marco Silva will have noticed, but it’s not only up to the club if a player is to succeed. It takes two to tango, and Vlasic would do well to show Everton he belongs, not only with his actions, but his words, too.