Transfers

Foxes flop Kramarić ready for second chance in Premier League

 • by Sam McGuire
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Mutter the name Andrej Kramarić to Premier League fans and you see the cogs in their brains trying to put a face to the name. Then it dawns on them: the Leicester City flop. 

Tipped as the next big thing having scored 55 goals in 65 games for HNK Rijeka, the Croatia international moved to the King Power Stadium in January of 2015 as a 23-year-old for a club record £9million.

He didn’t make the impact many hoped he would. He was limited to just 13 appearances in the latter half of the 2014/15 season, scoring on three occasions. Kramarić’s game time during the 2015/16 campaign was even more limited, getting on the pitch twice before he was loaned out to Hoffenheim in January 2016. 

Fast forward three and a half years and the Bundesliga club are demanding €50million for the one-time Fox, and, if reports are to be believed, AC Milan are contemplating paying the fee to land him.

The Serie A side shouldn’t be the only ones interested in him. His skill set lends itself to the Premier League, and his versatility means he could be a valuable asset to a number of top teams in England.

The interest comes after the 28-year-old enjoyed his most productive season to date during the 2018/19 campaign. He found the back of the net on 17 occasions in 30 Bundesliga appearances, his highest return since his final year with Rijeka.

Kramarić’s goal against Bayer Leverkusen in March saw him jump ahead of Sejad Salihović as the club’s all-time Bundesliga top goalscorer.  

A remarkable achievement for someone who hasn’t been deployed primarily as a forward. With Julian Nagelsmann not averse to mixing it up, the German tactician has used the Croatian wide left and as an attacking midfielder at times. 

Despite this, he’s been a reliable goal threat. In his full three seasons with Hoffenheim, Kramarić has scored 15, 13 and 17 respectively in the German top flight. Even when penalties are removed he’s netted double figures in all three seasons (10, 11 and 12). 

For a supporting striker, those are decent figures. His open-play xGContribution – a stat that combines expected goals and expected assists – over the past two seasons works out at 0.68 per 90.

However, despite those impressive numbers, it is worth noting he underperformed his non-penalty expected goals total last season by 5.03. Though clearly a consistent goal threat, he isn’t a reliable scorer and that needs to be factored in.

As a pure goalscorer, he isn’t worth €50million. Not even with a contract until 2022. But the value of Kramarić is he does much more than just score. As an attacking asset, there’s an argument to be made to claim the valuation placed on him by Hoffenheim is fair.

Especially when you consider the Bundesliga side are in no real rush to sell. They’ve already cashed in on Nico Schulz and Kerem Demirbay this summer. Unless an offer they simply can’t turn down is made for Kramarić then it’s likely he’ll stay. 

But for teams looking to break into the top six next season, he could be a shrewd signing. He combines goals and work-rate. As evidenced by his shot map above, his output is sustainable with the majority of his goals, and shots, coming from dangerous positions inside the area.

He’s an intelligent player who knows about pressing traps having played under Nagelsmann. As a support act, which is what he should be treated as, he’s a potential difference-maker.

He’s not a big enough name for Manchester United but, on paper, he’d be an ideal foil for Marcus Rashford and Daniel James in the attacking third. Everton could use him to get the best out of Richarlison and Ademola Lookman. Wolves play a system he’s familiar with and he struck up quite an understanding with Sandro Wagner, a player not too dissimilar in style to Raúl Jiménez.

There is a potential home for Kramarić in the Premier League. He just needs to be utilised properly if he’s ever going to be able to impress in the English top tier like he has in Germany. 

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