Maro Katinic: Following in the footsteps of Gvardiol, Lovren & Co. at Dinamo Zagreb

By FPL360
Maro Katinic: Following in the footsteps of Gvardiol, Lovren & Co. at Dinamo Zagreb


Talents Calendar 

Not quite six months have passed since Croatia’s perhaps biggest defensive talent Josko Gvardiol left the current 1. HNL titleholders for RB Leipzig and the Bundesliga for €18.8 million, and already a possible successor in Dinamo Zagreb’s academy is on the horizon who develops similarly. The talk is of Maro Katinic, who currently plays for the reserves in the 2nd division.

Kovacic, Gvardiol & Co.
Players from Dinamo Zagreb’s academy
Click here for overview
Although the 17-year-old, who moved to the Croatian capital from the youth ranks of HNK Rijeka in the summer of 2019, where he has a contract until the summer of 2022, would still be one of the younger players in the U19 team, the centre-back was promoted directly from the U17s to the senior side of the second team this summer.

Talents Calendar - Maro Katinic

Under club legend and former international Igor Cvitanovic, formerly active in LaLiga and a EURO 1996 participant for Croatia, Katinic is the youngest player in the squad, but has nevertheless already played thirteen matches over 1,037 minutes this season. Katinic, who is also a U19 international for his country, is a key part of the central defence under Cvitanovic. Had the team not been hit by several Covid infections before the U19 international break, which also prevented him from being called up for European Championship qualifying in November, Katinic would have even more playing time under his belt.

The tall defender, who just like Gvardiol was initially active as a defensive and attacking midfielder rather than in defence, like many Croatians stands out for his technique, strong passing and aerial play. Katinic often takes responsibility in the build-up and likes to send his teammates deep. However, what makes him stand out from other defenders in his year is his positional play in defensive work, as he is very good at reading the game in front of him, as well as his fair tackling, with which he is often able to win one-on-one situations without a foul due to his good timing, only to immediately re-initiate an attack himself after winning the ball. This attribute immediately stands out when watching the player.

Talents Calendar 2020: Here is how the players have developed

Juan Cabrera | Germany | Market value: –

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Schalke’s Juan Cabrera was listed as Uruguayan in last year’s Talents Calendar. Since then he has opted for Germany.

Pipi Nakai | Japan | Market value: –

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Pipi Nakai has made the next step at Real Madrid and is now part of the reserve team. But he is still awaiting his debut in Spain’s third division.

Bradley Fink | Switzerland | Market value: –

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Youssoufa Moukoko’s footsteps were not too big: Bradley Fink has been scoring consistently for Dortmund’s U19 side.

Alejandro Iturbe | Spain | Market value: –

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Alejandro Iturbe is slowly being integrated into Atlético Madrid’s first team and has already made the bench once.

Ramen Cepele | Albania | Market value: –

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Ramen Cepele has struggled with some smaller injuries but nonetheless has already featured for Hannover 96 II in the Regionalliga.

Turan Calhanoglu | Germany | Market value: –

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2021 has been a year to forget for Turan Calhanoglu. Hakan Calhanoglu’s cousin struggled with injuries all seasons long.

Kelvin John | Tanzania | Market value: €100,000

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“As soon as I turn 18, I will move to a big club“, said Kelvin John last year. Promise kept, the forward joined KRC Genk ahead of the season.

Bikash Yumnam | India | Market value: €100,000

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Bikash Yumnam continues his dream of moving to Europe. But it has been baby steps for the RoundGlass Punjab FC defender.

Simon Ngapandouetnbu | France | Market value: €150,000

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Born in Cameroon Simon Ngapandouetnbu has opted for France and is still awaiting his debut for Olympique Marseille’s senior team.

Seong-jin Kang | South Korea | Market value: €225,000

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Seong-jin Kang has not just become a regular starter for FC Seoul but an important first team player.

Kluiverth Aguilar | Peru | Market value: €300,000

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That Kluiverth Aguilar would move to Europe was already certain last year. Signed by Manchester City, the right-back is currently under contract at Lommel SK, which also is part of the City Group.

Xavi Simons | Netherlands | Market value: €500,000

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For Xavi Simons the last season was a mixed back. First close to the first team, the talented attacking midfielder has been ignored by Mauricio Pochettino and is currently considering a transfer to another club.

Tommaso Baldanzi | Italy | Market value: €600,000

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Tommaso Baldanzi led FC Empoli’s U19 to the championship in the Primavera and is now part of the first team.

Marcelo Flores | Mexico | Market value: €600,000

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Mexiko, Canada or England: For now Marcelo Flores the talented midfielder has opted for Mexico’s U20 but it is expected that Flores will await a final decision as Canada remains in the mix to secure the services of the 18-year-old.

Ömer Beyaz | Turkey | Market value: €1 million

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In Ömer Beyaz another talented player found the way to the Bundesliga. The 18-year-old Turkish talent has joined VfB Stuttgart.

Patryck | Brazil | Market value: €1 million

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U17 world championPatryck is part of FC São Paulo’s first team but for now still without a game.

Louie Barry | England | Market value: €1 million

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Former Barça talent Louie Barry has made his debut for Aston Villa but is currently on loan at Ipswich Town.

Loizos Loizou | Cyprus | Market value: €1.5 million

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Loizos Loizou has already won his first title with Omonia Nicosia but a transfer to a bigger league has yet to materialize.

Hannibal Mejbri | Tunisia | Market value: €3m

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Hannibal Mejbri is the third player in the calendar to switch national teams. Previously with France, the Man United talent has since made the switch to Tunisia.

Luca Oyen | Belgium | Market value: €3m

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Luca Oyen continues to collect playing time with the first team but has struggled to show the sort of consistency he displayed last season.

Caden Clark | USA | Market value: €3.5 million

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Not surprising Caden Clark will join RB Leipzig this winter. This year the 18-year-old played his first full season with New York Red Bulls with whom he was eliminated in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson | Iceland | Market value: €4.5 million

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Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson has made the next step in his career and has joined FC Copenhagen.

Arsen Zakharyan | Russia | Market value: €9 million


Arsen Zakharyan has developed into a top talent under head coach Sandro Schwarz at Dinamo Moscow and is one of the most important players at the club.

Yusuf Demir | Austria | Market value: €12 million

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Yusuf Demir has fulfilled his wish and joined FC Barcelona where he has already made his debut for the first team.

Furthermore, Katinic stands out for his fearlessness, plays in a detached manner without pressure and does not shy away from duels, even against much more experienced opponents. Katinic himself recently explained that this comes from “because I (…) was always one step ahead of my generation (and) played in bigger teams.” That is probably why he embodies that self-confidence when more experienced players face him in a duel, he said.

Dinamo Zagreb’s Katinic is already attracting interest abroad

Katinic has also already confirmed that his agent has spoken with some clubs abroad, but he did not name specific sides. However, he would prefer to move to the German Bundesliga or the Italian Serie A, just like Gvardiol. According to media reports, there is international interest from Juventus, Fiorentina, NapoliAtalanta and RB Salzburg.

Player Comparison

GNK Dinamo Zagreb II

RB Leipzig


Market Value





Jun 16, 2022

Contract until

Jun 30, 2026

Full Player Comparison

In terms of perspective, the defender should have a higher chance of turning into a senior player by going through the domestic leagues than by moving abroad at an early age. Even if the reserve teams have to withdraw from the 2nd HNL for the 2022/23 season due to a federation decision, another season for Katinic at Dinamo would be just right as a developmental step. In Zagreb, he can continue to prove himself without pressure and show that he can hold his own against physically stronger players. At this stage, it is crucial to gain match practice and in the 2nd league he gets it. If he continues to perform well and stays fit, there could even be a chance for him to be taken to the first team’s winter training camp under new head coach Zeljko Kopic, who should know him very well as a former head of the youth department.

Gavi, Moukoko & Co.: The most valuable players born in 2004

11 Shola Shoretire – Manchester United – Market value: €3m

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As of December 16, 2021

11 Vinicius Tobias – Internacional – Market value: €3m


7 Andreas Schjelderup – FC Nordsjaelland – Market value: €5m

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7 Matheus Nascimento – Botafogo – Market value: €5m

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7 Giovani – Palmeiras – Market value: €5m

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7 Sávio – Atlético Mineiro – Market value: €5m

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6 Julio Enciso – Club Libertad – Market value: €5.5m

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5 Kaiky – Santos – Market value: €6m

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4 Ângelo Gabriel – Santos – Market value: €7m

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3 Mohamed-Ali Cho – Angers – Market value: €12m

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2 Youssoufa Moukoko – BVB – Market value: €18m

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1 Gavi – Barcelona – Market value: €25m

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Even if the contract situation is unfavourable for the club and there is a strong possibility that the player will refuse an extension and accept one of the many offers from abroad, Katinic should not follow the call of fast money, but consider the path of Dejan Lovren and Vedran Corluka – both went on loan to Inter Zapresic – who later left Dinamo as seasoned players after their return from loan. The past shows: In the talent factory in Zagreb, you also have good, perhaps even better development opportunities than abroad. Those who decide to stay will be given as much development time and individual encouragement as they need – and, above all, plenty of playing time at a young age.

From December 1 to 24, we introduce new players from different countries born in 2004. Area managers, users, and data scouts come into play as experts throughout the series. You can follow all those players by adding them to your TM watchlist.




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