VfB Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic isn’t a household name known to the masses.
But to those of a Bundesliga, German or Austrian persuasion, you probably know a fair bit about a player who has burst onto the top flight scene over the last 12 months.
Kalajdzic has been so impressive in fact that he’s already clocked up interest from the Premier League, with Stuttgart now looking nervously at their emails as they await a potential offer. West Ham were first linked with a £15m move back in March, to replace the now long departed Sebastien Haller, but it’s now Champions League winners Chelsea who are thought to be circling.
The Blues are determined to land Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and are willing to pay up to £150m to get an incredible deal done. But even though that sounds like incredible money, BVB appear to have no intention of sanctioning a deal – leaving Kalajdzic as a more than credible plan B option.
Feel like you want to know more about Kalajdzic? Never fear. 90min is here.
Standing at a monstrous 6’7, Kalajdzic 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 subject, but admitted he also doesn’t take it too seriously despite taking the positives.
With height like that, he could be headed for the WWE Performance Centre before too long.
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 establishing Stuttgart’s Bundesliga status.
West Ham and Chelsea are not the first clubs in England to have had their eyes 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.
For the FIFA Career Mode players of the world, Kalajdzic might actually be the hidden gem your save is lacking.
In the FIFA 21 edition of the game, he starts as a 69 overall and is available for around £3.2m on wages of around £11,000. 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.
Kalajdzic is a relative late bloomer in many ways, and the same can be said about his international career with Austria.
Largely overlooked at youth level, he made just six appearances for the Under-21s and failed to score. Kalajdzic has taken his chance to shine at senior level, however, and got Austria back into the game against Italy during their Euro 2020 round of 16 showdown at Wembley.
Sadly, his extra-time header was in vein as Italy emerged 2-1 victors before going on to win the entire tournament.