VfB Stuttgart left-sided specialist Borna Sosa has been likened to David Beckham by the club's sporting director Sven Mislintat.
Beckham forged a career on his world-class passing range, representing Manchester United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-German and LA Galaxy, as well as winning 115 senior England international caps.
Eight years on from Beckham's retirement at the age of 38, Sosa is fast gaining a laser-guided reputation of his own, thanks to his wand of a left boot.
"Borna's said himself that David Beckham is his role model, and I think he has the same qualities," Mislintat told Bild, the only glaring difference being that Beckham's preferred foot was his right.
"He puts in crosses from every angle: sometimes chipped, sometimes drilled, sometimes flat, sometimes in behind, sometimes to the front post, other times to the back post. His left foot is a real weapon."
In 2021 alone, Sosa has weighed in with seven assists to take his season total to eight. In the seven games in which the 23-year-old has laid on a goal, Stuttgart are unbeaten, while four of his pin-point deliveries have furnished 6'6" striker Sasa Kalajdzic.
"Our Balkan connection is working out well," commented Kalajdzic, the Austria international of Serbian descent, and now Stuttgart's 12-goal top scorer in 2020/21.
Watch: Sasa Kalajdzic praises Borna Sosa's crossing ability
Sosa has a another fan in VfB head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo. "Borna has blossomed," enthused the American tactician recently. "We all knew about his huge potential - now he's delivering over 90 minutes on a consistent basis."
Sosa had never made more than 12 appearances in a single-league season for Stuttgart after making the switch from Dynamo Zagreb in summer 2018. Pubitis and a groin strain restricted him to seven starts as Stuttgart were relegated from the Bundesliga in 2018/19. He managed only one more in Bundesliga 2 the following year, his progress interrupted by a concussion and season-ending knee injury.
In 2020/21, however, Sosa has already featured in 19 of Stuttgart's 24 Bundesliga matches, making 18 starts. Recovering peak fitness has played its part - so, too, has Matarazzo's decision to deploy the former Croatia youth international in a more advanced role.
Sosa has lined up as a left-wing-back or even left-sided midfielder 17 times so far this term, compared to twice as a left-back. Tellingly, he's the Bundesliga's leading provider among clubs outside the top four, while only Bayern Munich (71), Borussia Dortmund (50), Eintracht Frankfurt (47) and RB Leipzig (46) have scored more goals than promoted Stuttgart's 45.
"When I came to Stuttgart, Mario [Gomez] told me he hadn't been served these kinds of crosses since his time at Bayern Munich. That was great to hear, and motivates me to this day," Sosa said in relation to his uptick in tangibles.
"I'm just really enjoying my football here at Stuttgart. I want to repay the club's trust in me in every game."