A Barcelona prodigy who felt time on the pitch was more valuable than training at La Masia, RB Leipzig signed one of European football's most prized young talents from Dinamo Zagreb in Dani Olmo.
bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the Spanish attacking midfielder who lit up UEFA Euro 2020 and notched La Roja's first goal at the 2022 World Cup...
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: Spain (28 caps/5 goals)
Born in Terrassa, on the outskirts of Barcelona, Olmo always looked destined to spend time at the Spanish club's famed La Masia youth academy. He joined from city rivals Espanyol in 2007, aged seven. Olmo finished top scorer for his age group in four of his six seasons at La Masia, but decided to leave Barcelona to progress his career, joining Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb on a professional contract in the summer of 2014.
Olmo quickly showed the talents that Barcelona had failed to secure. He was fast-tracked into Zagreb's first-team squad and made his debut in February 2015, aged just 16. In June 2019 he was named Croatia's Player of the Year and helped Spain win the U21 European Championships, scoring three goals in the tournament – including one in the 2-1 win over Germany in the final.
The Spaniard made his debut in the UEFA Champions League group stages in 2018 and went on to make 124 appearances for Zagreb in total, scoring 34 goals and laying on 28 assists while playing in a variety of positions in the final third. The 24-year-old's preferred position is in the No.10 role behind a striker, which is where he played - for the most part - under Julian Nagelsmann in 2020/21.
He made a total of 32 Bundesliga appearances that term, racking up more minutes than any other Leipzig midfielder (2,205) and contributing five goals and 10 assists as the Saxony upstarts finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich. He has suffered injury setbacks in the two subsequent campaigns, although his recent return from a knee problem has coincided with Leipzig's upswing in form, leaving them third in the table during the 2022 winter break.
Plays a bit like: Isco
Olmo is seen as one of the most talented players in Spain's current crop of midfield maestros. The Catalan stands out thanks to his technical ability, which he demonstrated with a superbly-taken goal against Costa Rica in Spain's opener at the 2022 World Cup - La Roja's 100th in the competition. His close control is mesmerising to watch, and makes him almost impossible to play against. Olmo couples that ability with his will to drive the ball at goal, be that in his own possession or with threaded through-balls. Much like former Leipzig teammate Marcel Sabitzer - now of Bayern - Olmo also has the ability to smash the ball home from range should space open up.
Did you know?
Olmo is the youngest foreigner to play for Dinamo Zagreb, having made his debut at 16 years and nine months old. His also the fourth-youngest player outright to play for the famous Croatian club, who, like Barcelona, boast a prestigious youth academy.
What they’re saying
"He was a typical forward, a very good finisher. He scored goals in every age category. He understood space well, so he could always find room to score. He's a natural-born goalscorer." - Former La Masia coach Denis Silva Puig
"I was eight years old. I was playing happily by myself with a ball, when someone - I think it was a friend of my dad’s - came over and told me, 'Hey, Dani, come here! You’re not going to believe this. You’re going to have your picture taken with Lionel Messi!' Apparently, Messi had a friend playing in the Castelldefels game and had come down to see him. Wow, Messi, right? In Castelldefels? What kid wouldn’t want their picture with him? Well, me! I was like, 'No, thanks. I’m good. I want to keep playing! It’s just a picture, right?'" - Olmo on his early infatuation with a football, which even Lionel Messi couldn't distract him from
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