Meet the Bosnian defender hoping to stop Messi and Aguero

Alex Holiga profiles the Bosnian defender attracting interest from Manchester United...

The 60-second story

This time last year, Sead Kolasinac represented Germany at the U21 European Championship in Israel. Then the Bosnian Football Federation approached him and convinced the defender to switch his citizenship and play for the country of his parents.

In the months that followed, Bosnia secured their qualification for the World Cup and Kolasinac's career really took off with Schalke. He established himself as their regular left-back and made six appearances in the Champions League, including the last 16 matches against Real Madrid when he started both games. His full international debut for Bosnia and Herzegovina came in a friendly against Argentina in November, and he immediately won over the hearts of fans.

FACT FILE

  • Date of Birth: 20th June 1993
  • Place of Birth: Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Height: 6ft 0in
  • Former clubs: Karlsruher SC, Hoffenheim, VfB Stuttgart
  • Current club: Schalke 04 (40 appearances, 0 goals)
  • International record: Bosnia-Herzegovina (4 appearances, 0 goals)
     

Born and bred in Karlsruhe, Kolasinac came through the youth ranks of his local side Karslruher SC, but spent further portions of his development in Hoffenheim and Stuttgart before joining Schalke in 2011. Over the next two years he played for Germany's U18s, U19s and U21s.

Kolasinac is a highly ambitious, extremely confident player who isn't blessed with great technique or creativity, but he makes up for it with a frenetic, combative approach. He rapidly improved by learning to channel it into positive aggression, while managing to keep his cool in tricky situations with a routine well beyond his age – he will only turn 21 on June 20, the day before Bosnia face Nigeria.

Why you need to know him

Kolasinac instantly became Bosnia’s first-choice left-back, although he is yet to make an appearance in a competitive game. He’s in great shape and could be a revelation at the World Cup, where his new-old nation will make history with their debut participation in the tournament.

He also impressed with his performances for Schalke and began attracting interest from other European clubs, who would like to snatch him before he becomes too expensive – his market value is currently estimated at £4.4 million, according to Transfermarkt. Kolasinac could be on the move this summer already.

Strengths

Strong, athletic and aggressive, Kolasinac is an exceptional tackler (with 2.9 tackles per game, he’s the most successful Schalke player in that department), while his marking and one-on-one game remains his best treat – he’s able to stay close to his opponent at all times and pick the best time to dispossess him. Over time, he has also learned how to do that without conceding fouls. His stamina is seemingly endless and his ability to keep cool in tricky situations quite extraordinary for such a young player. Psychologically, he seems to have huge self-esteem and looks confident on the pitch.

Weaknesses

Kolasinac’s attacking play leaves a lot to be desired, and he’s practically useless once he crosses the halfway line with the ball at his feet. While he tends to keep his passes short and simple, his crossing is rather poor – as is his overall technique with the ball. He tries to compensate those flaws with a highly energetic, combative approach and usually succeeds in it, but all that suggests his best position may be away from the flank. Perhaps he could become a useful holding midfielder.

They said...

Schalke head coach Jens Keller: "He has trained very well and played well even with Bayern against Arjen Robben. I have no qualms about him. Sead is a tree – he gets hit on the head, but just shakes it off and continues to play superbly."

Did you know?

‘The Destroyer’, ‘The Tank’, ‘The Bulldozer’, ‘The Bosnian Hulk’, ‘The Duracell Bunny’ – just some of the impromptu nicknames devised by Bosnia fans for Kolasinac, after seeing the newest member of their beloved Dragons play in the blue shirt.

What happens next?

Manchester United have already made their move. The player himself confirmed he had been approached over a potential summer transfer to Old Trafford. “Yes, I have an offer from Manchester United,” Kolasinac revealed to Dnevni Avaz, a Bosnian daily newspaper, back in late April. “But I will not hurry with my decision. I have to see what Schalke think about it.” If he performs well for Bosnia at the World Cup, others could very soon come knocking as well.

Talentspotter ratings

Shooting 4 • Passing 7 • Heading 7 • Tackling 8 • Pace 7 • Work-rate 9 • Crossing 4


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