Can Stuttgart's Filip Kostic Surpass Arjen Robben?

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Can Stuttgart's Filip Kostic Surpass Arjen Robben?
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Have Stuttgart unearthed their version of Arjen Robben by signing Filip Kostic from Groningen?

Here is a scouting report on Kostic, a 21-year-old, 5'11", 150-pound Serbian left/right-forward.

"We had been observing Filip Kostic intensively for quite some time," Stuttgart director of sport Fredi Bobic said, per Stuttgart's official website. "He is a young, technically capable player with an eye for goal and the potential to develop further."

Credit: Bundesliga.com

 

Kostic Positives

Leading Groningen in total dribbles (97) and dribbles per game (2.6), Kostic provides impetus going forward.

Kostic fits the profile Stuttgart are looking for in their attacking players. 

  • Possesses the ability to score or create, preferably both. 
  • Comfortable dribbler. 

These are attributes you find in Stuttgart players such as Alexandru Maxim, Daniel Didavi, Marco Rojas, Martin Harnik, Moritz Leitner, Timo Werner, etc. 

When you watch Kostic, his playing style is alike to Robben.

Angling in from the right, Kostic scored Robben-esque goals against Ajax and NAC Breda.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br
Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

Kostic is capable of manufacturing game-changing plays. 

He marvellously volleyed the ball first-time past then-Roda (now Dordrecht) goalkeeper Filip Kurto.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

Pulling off a Cristiano Ronaldo chop to evade NEC utility player Kevin Conboy, Kostic whipped the ball into the left corner.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

Kostic can also finish from the left flank as evident against PSV Eindhoven and Roda.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br
Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

In fact, Kostic scored more goals from the left than on the right last season, per Squawka.

Credit: Squawka.com

Not only is Kostic a regular scorer, he is a creative outlet being second (seven) to right/centre-forward Nick van der Velden in assists (eight).

Generating a yard of separation from PSV right-back Santiago Arias, Kostic squared the ball to then-Groningen (now Ajax) centre-forward Richairo Zivkovic.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

Zipping away from Sparta Rotterdam's Cambuur loanee Robert van Boxel, Kostic teed up Groningen central attacking midfielder Tjaronn Chery.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

Accelerating past Go Ahead Eagles right-back Mawouna Amevor, Kostic floated in a cross for Liverpool's Groningen loanee Krisztian Adorjan.

Credit: Eredivisie.nl/ESPN.com.br

Another beneficial facet of Kostic's game is his high motor and his proclivity to compete. 

He was a more prolific tackler than Ajax left-back Nicolai Boilesen, Feyenoord centre/left-back Terence Kongolo and then-PEC Zwolle (now Twente) defensive midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo last season.

League Only 2013-14 Tackles Per Game Fouls Per Game Tackles Per Foul Interceptions Per Game
Filip Kostic 2.2 1.5 1.5 0.5
Kamohelo Mokotjo 2.0 0.7 2.9 2.2
Nicolai Boilesen 1.2 0.6 2.0 1.0
Terence Kongolo 2.1 0.7 2.9 2.4

 

Kostic Negatives

There is no glaring flaw in Kostic's game. 

He is athletic, scores, creates, tackles and has immense upside. 

The only concern is if he can replicate his Eredivisie form for Stuttgart. 

Is Kostic the real deal who will thrive in Germany like RobbenJefferson FarfanKlaas-Jan Huntelaar, Roy Makaay, et al.?

Or, is Kostic a product of Eredivisie's open brand of football which heavily favours attacking players?

Recently, several Eredivisie stars have struggled transitioning to the Bundesliga:

Bas Dost (Wolfsburg): Scored more goals in one game against Excelsior for Heerenveen (five) than he did last season in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg (four). 

You can't even say Dost is serviceable because he has fitness issues. 

Luuk de Jong (Borussia Monchengladbach): Never saw eye-to-eye with manager Lucien Favre, per Sky Sports.

Once Favre changed the formation to exclude a conventional No. 9 (he played with two deep-lying forwards in Max Kruse and Raffael), De Jong was always headed for the exits. 

After an unproductive loan stint at Newcastle UnitedDe Jong is resuscitating his career by taking a step backwards in order to receive regular starts at PSV.

Marcus Berg (Hamburg): Looked like he would develop into a world-class goal-poacher, though he never made the step up for Hamburg. 

He peaked at Groningen and is an example of an early bloomer. 

Now playing in Greece for Panathinaikos

Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen): Flashed world-class play, but was so inconsistent on and off the field. 

Struggled with being a professional, per Werder's official website

SV Werder Bremen have suspended Marko Arnautovic and Eljero Elia from training and game competition with immediate effect.

Police pulled over Arnautovic at 3 am Friday morning on the A1 highway to Osnabruck for high speeding.

When Arnautovic was stopped, Elia pulled over his car as well. Alcohol was not involved in the incident.

Arnautovic is re-building his career with Stoke City

Eljero Elia (Hamburg): When he moved to Hamburg, his development stagnated and then he opted for an ego-boosting transfer to Juventus.

Looked great on his CV, but it hindered his development. 

He is making incremental improvements at Werder.

 

Bottom Line

Stuttgart manager Armin Veh talked about the "very good personal impressionKostic made.

Veh could be making a reference to Kostic's confidence to succeed.

He did once say Groningen were "80 percent" through against Aberdeen in a two-legged Europa League match-up, per Ben Holme at the Evening Express.

Prior to riding high, Kostic endured hardship.  

Two seasons ago, David Texeiraa rumoured Liverpool transfer targetwas a bigger prospect than Kostic, who experienced growing pains, per Michiel Jongsma at BeNeFoot

Kostic, brought in at 19 years of age, came to the club as a rough diamond and, in his first year, never lived up to the hype that had surrounded him.

[...]

Rumours came out about the player being not motivated and having trouble keeping his weight in check.

An investment of FC Groningen of €1 million/£800K was deemed redundant within 12 months.

Jongsma likened Kostic's will to Luis Suarez, who also reached a crossroads during his Groningen career, per Duncan White at The Telegraph:

Having been given a three-week holiday, he [Suarez] turned up at Groningen, in [then Groningen manager Ron] Jans' words, "a little heavy."

He [Suarez] was promptly put in the reserves to get fit.

"He was a real character," Jans said. "He hated it when he found out he was going to have to play in the second team."

There was one training session when he was doing nothing.

I brought the whole group together and said to Suarez in front of them: "You promised 100 percent and you are doing nothing and playing like [expletive]."

Like Suarez, Kostic summoned his inner strength to bounce back from adversity.

In comparison, Texeira lacked the belief to get himself out of a rut at Groningen.

Texeira is now playing for FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.

Kostic plays like Robben and has the self-belief of Suarez.

If Kostic succeeds at Stuttgart, he will be in line for a big-money move to a major European club.

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored 

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