Bayern Munich's Croatian teenager Lovro Zvonarek has been likened to decorated countryman Luka Modric. bundesliga.com finds out more about the exciting midfielder...
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: Croatia (12 youth caps/ three goals)
Born on 8 May 2005 in the northern city of Cakovec in his native Croatia, Zvonarek was just seven years old when he joined local club NK Mladost Prelog. He made the step up to NK Koprivnica four years later and jumped between them and Slaven Belupo as the two teams that share a ground with each other also shared the talented midfielder. Zvonarek sealed the deal with Belupo in 2019 and the then 15-year-old had a trial at the FC Bayern Campus in April 2021, which ultimately led to his move to Bavaria.
Just four days after turning 16, Zvonarek made his professional debut with the club on 12 May 2021, becoming the second-youngest player to ever play in the Croatian top flight. It was the first of a number of records for the youngster, with his maiden professional strike on the final day of the season not only helping confirm his team's place in the division, but also making him the youngest player to score in the league at 16 years, 14 days old. Bayern confirmed the signing of Zvonarek in September 2021, with the teenager loaned back to Belupo for the season.
A total of 20 appearances, three goals and two assists followed in the 2021/22 campaign and he was handed the armband against Hajduk Split on 4 April 2022. This ensured yet another record for Zvonarek, this time Europe-wide, as he became the youngest player to ever lead out European team in a top-flight fixture just four days before turning 17. He kept the captaincy for all five of the club's final games of the season.
Plays a bit like: Luka Modric
"He has the ability to become the new Luka Modric," former Belupo coach Tomislav Stipic, who is credited with discovering Zvonarek and was head coach of Erzgebirge Aue and of the youth teams at Eintracht Frankfurt, has said previously. "He's much further ahead than anyone else at this age. The overall package is sensational. Lovro has game intelligence, quick thinking, a duel, a shot from 30 metres, he can dribble, he can pass."
From Stipic's comments, you can see why there is excitement over Zvonarek's potential as heir apparent to superstar midfielder Modric. The drifting movement, the vision and range of passing are all mouth-watering shared traits, but any likeness to the 2018 FIFA World Cup runner-up and five-time UEFA Champions League winner must come with a warning label.
Zvonarek also clocks in at 5'10" - two inches taller than Modric - and is a slightly rangier figure. Not only that, he's also a bit more direct than his illustriously roaming compatriot. "He moves very well without the ball, but even with the ball he always knows what to do," Belupo coach Zoran Zekic explained to Goal. "He has incredible timing of his passes and he always plays vertically."
Watch: How the Bundesliga creates young stars
Did you know?
Zvonarek has 12 youth international caps for his country and has scored twice, with his last three appearances coming for the U17s. And he will have plenty of friendly faces to warden off any potential homesickness in Munich. Bayern have already given Bundesliga debuts to Croatian youngsters Josip Stanisic and Gabriel Vidovic, while Gabriel Marusic and Luka Klanac are also in their youth team ranks.
What they're saying
"Lovro was with us on campus for a trial training session in the spring. We have not only been convinced of his great development potential since these days and are very pleased that he has decided to move to FC Bayern." - FCB Campus director Jochen Sauer
"FC Bayern is one of the largest and most successful clubs in the world. To play here in the future and to be able to wear this shirt makes me proud. And it also encourages me to work hard on myself every day." - Zvonarek after signing with Bayern
"I struggle to find words to describe Lovro. He is very talented and very intelligent, extraordinarily professional, and he has a great understanding of everything." - Slaven Belupo coach Zekic
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