Scouting Report: Could Sime Vrsaljko Be Arsenal's Priority Defensive Target?

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Scouting Report: Could Sime Vrsaljko Be Arsenal's Priority Defensive Target?
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Could Genoa's Croatian international Sime Vrsaljko—a 22-year-old, 6'0", 161-pound defender—become one of Arsenal's main summer transfer window targets? 

To cover that hypothetical, this article grades Vrsaljko's display against Mexico at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and provides a scouting report on his season with Genoa. 


Vrsaljko vs. Mexico Grade: F

Vrsaljko had an abysmal game at left-back during Croatia's 3-1 defeat to Mexico. 

Not only did Vrsaljko give away possession 33 percent of the time he attempted a pass, per, he did not involve himself in Croatia's attacking play.

Vrsaljko was replaced by central midfielder Mateo Kovacic meaning Danijel Pranjic, who had started in midfield, was moved to left-back in the second half.

  Danijel Pranjic Sime Vrsaljko
Tackles 1 0
Interceptions 0 0
Fouls 0 3

The only consolation for Vrsaljko is Pranjic was just as awful at left-back. 


Vrsaljko Genoa Positives

Vrsaljko is versatile having played in defence and midfield on either flank for Genoa.  

Vrsaljko enhances Genoa's wide play with surging runs from the flanks. 

Creating separation from Sampdoria left-back Vasco Regini, Vrsaljko squared the ball to Napoli's Genoa loanee Emanuele Calaio.

Vrsaljko latched on to Genoa centre-forward Alberto Gilardino's backheel and drew a penalty from AC Milan left-back Urby Emanuelson.

Vrsaljko won a cheap penalty after his shirt was tugged by Sassuolo central midfielder Francesco Magnanelli.

While Vrsaljko did not score a goal in Serie A last season, he flashed ability with a long-range shot against Torino, which crashed on to the post.


Vrsaljko Genoa Negatives 

Vrsaljko's 43 tackle success percentage, per, is below average.

Vrsaljko needs to work on being more secure at the back.

Miscommunication in the Genoa back line led to Vrsaljko failing to close down Emanuelson, whose cross created a scoring chance for Milan substitute Valter Birsa.

Vrsaljko was not in position to contest Juventus left wing-back Kwadwo Asamoah's cross.

Sassuolo substitute Nicola Sansone got in front of Vrsaljko to score.


Bottom Line

While Vrsaljko is an elite prospect, he is rough around the edges.

  • Unproductive in the attacking half: No goals, one assist in 22 Serie A games. 
  • Below average ball-winning: 1.9 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game.

However, with Arsenal losing right-back and emergency centre-back Bacary Sagna to Manchester City, per the GuardianVrsaljko should be on the long-list of potential Arsenal defensive reinforcements.



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