Sasa Kalajdzic: Things to know about the towering Austrian striker

Sasa Kalajdzic: Things to know about the towering Austrian striker

Despite West Ham’s recent success, signing a striker remains at the top of the to-do list for the club’s hierarchy.

David Moyes has persevered without the out-and-out forward his side probably needs and is yet to replace the departed Sebastien Haller, but that perseverance won’t necessarily make good on some seriously impressive progress.

Sasa Kalajdzic is the latest name being linked to the east Londoners in the transfer rumour mill, with reports claiming he has been identified by West Ham ahead of a potential £15m move in summer.

Michail AntonioMichail Antonio
Michail Antonio could benefit from a helping hand up top | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Plenty of clubs around Europe are also showing an interest if reports are to be believed, but the likelihood is that most haven’t heard of him.

Fear not – here’s all the things you need to know about Kalajdzic; a commentator’s dream.

Sasa Kalajdzic, Joakim NilssonSasa Kalajdzic, Joakim Nilsson
Kalajdzic towers his opponents | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Standing at a monstrous 6’7, the 23-year-old has understandably gained comparisons to Peter Crouch due to his height and equally slender frame.

Crouch is a member of the Premier League 100 club, however, meaning the comparisons aren’t a bad way to go. He has previously addressed the comparisons and took them well, but admitted he also doesn’t take them very seriously.

With a size like that, he could be headed for the WWE Performance Centre if West Ham don’t move quickly enough.

It comes as quite a shock that someone so big could ever be used anywhere other than as a striker or a goalkeeper, really, but Kalajdzic was once neither of those things.

In his youth career, the Austrian was actually used as a midfielder and credits those years for helping him to refine his technical ability before a growth spurt hit him in his later teens.

Who knows, perhaps he’s the utility man every club secretly needs.

After impressing with Admira Wacker in his native Austria, Kalajdzic earned a move to VfB Stuttgart in July 2019, but was ruled out with a torn ACL just 20 minutes into a pre-season friendly.

It meant he had to wait until 28 May 2020 to officially debut for his ‘new’ club, who were chasing promotion to the Bundesliga.

It would’ve been easy for him to fall off following such an injury, but he made six appearances that season and has since become a key player in their return to the top flight, with 12 goals and four assists from 23 league appearances this season.

Marcelo BielsaMarcelo Bielsa
Leeds are said to have previously had eyes on the Austrian | Pool/Getty Images

West Ham are not the first club in England to have had their eye on Kalajdzic.

Leeds United had been linked with a move for the Austrian off the back of his impressive 2018/19 campaign with Admira Wacker, before he made the move to Stuttgart.

Having such a physically imposing striker in such an energetic Leeds side under Marcelo Bielsa would’ve been interesting to say the least. He also would’ve relished the physical challenge of the Championship.

Sasa KalajdzicSasa Kalajdzic
A potential career mode hero | Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

For the FIFA Career Mode players of the world, Kalajdzic might actually be the hidden gem your save is lacking.

Starting at a 69 overall, the 23-year-old is available for around £3.2m and starts on wages of around £11k. Consider that he can grow to at least a 78 overall, it’s probably a bit of a bargain to be had for a Championship-level side.

Alright, time for the relevant stuff. What’s he like on the pitch?

Unsurprisingly, Kalajdzic isn’t the quickest nor the most mobile of strikers, but he uses his body well to bring others into play and makes smart runs into the box, slipping through teammates with a pass or finishing himself.

Mix that in with some serious physical dominance and there’s a pretty unique striker to have in your squad, if you can find the right system to unleash him.

Jesse Lingard, Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals, Tomas SoucekJesse Lingard, Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals, Tomas Soucek
The Irons have assembled the band – Kalajdzic could be the fifth Beatle | Pool/Getty Images

The Austrian international was born on 7 July 1997 and shares his day of birth with Ringo Starr of The Beatles.

With West Ham finding form and tuning up the band as of late, Kalajdzic might be the missing piece of the jigsaw and he doesn’t even know it.

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