According to reports, Borussia Dortmund are looking to make a move for Partizan Belgrade’s Matija Popović, with Real Madrid and Barcelona also interested.
The chase for young, talented players ready to be molded into future superstars is a never-ending process for Borussia Dortmund, and it seems the club have identified their next target in the form of Matija Popović (17). The German-born Serbian attacking midfielder has impressed in his appearances for Partizan Belgrade in the Kadetska liga Srbije, having scored 21 goals and provided 5 assists across 25 appearances. His performances have yielded a contribution of a goal every 93 minutes, and astounding stat for a player so young.
Over the course of his young career, Popović has showed that he can feature in a number of attacking positions including out on the wing and as a striker/ second striker. His predominant position is attacking midfield but his positional flexibility could make him an enticing prospect for most managers to develop. The player is known for his technique, creativity and link up play, but still has to improve when it comes to his aggression on the pitch. The athleticism and aggression he shows would certainly fit in to the mold of player Edin Terzić has been determined to bring into this Dortmund side, and considering the club are still not fully up and running in terms of attacking fluidity, injecting some additional creativity in the form of a flexible player like Popović could be worth considering.
In fact, this tactical flexibility may even allow the player to move into a central-midfield position. The player’s physicality, creative ability and age give him time to develop based on the club he joins. With Dortmund looking for more creative midfield options, it may make sense to try the young Serbian as a more creative box to box midfielder, which is still (in my opinion) a position Dortmund need reinforcement in. The player has been compared to the likes of Sergej Milinković-Savić in the past, making such a notion even conceivable.
On the flip side, this sort of career trajectory may simply limit the superb attacking value Popović brings with his style of play. It would of course be a topic to approach with caution, and there is no guarantee that the player would even want to submit to such a role on the pitch. A more rational approach could see the Serbian become a replacement for Youssoufa Moukoko down the line if Terzić continues to ignore his development and minutes on the pitch. This is by no means the ideal scenario, but in the event that such a split between the club and Moukoko occur, Popović could be a ready-made replacement that fits the requirements Terzić has been looking for; a strong, physical striker that is also very good technically.
There is a sense of urgency to consider regarding Popović as a potential transfer target as the player’s contract with Partizan Belgrade is up at the end of this December. The player will be making his choice as to what club to join to take the next step in his career very soon. Barcelona and Real Madrid have also shown interest, which will of course be tantalizing for the young player.
That being said, both Barcelona and Madrid have either brought through or recently invested in young, promising attacking prospects. With the emergence of Lamine Yamal from La Masia, and Madrid’s summer spending on the likes of Jude Bellingham and Arda Güler, both will be stacked in the positions that Popović would possibly occupy.
Dortmund have a similar “problem” as the attack is filled with promising players or players that are already having an impact. While of course not a move that’s set in stone, of the club’s interested, Dortmund are the most likely to still give the player the most minutes. The step-up from an environment like Serbian youth football to playing for clubs like Madrid or Barcelona can also be detrimental to a player’s development both in terms of minutes on the pitch and the pressure that comes with the expectations at these clubs.
Popović has the added advantage of fitting the mold of the type of player Terzić has been looking for, and perhaps this may accelerate his ascendence onto Dortmund’s, and in extension the European stage. This, coupled with his ability to make several positions his own will be a boon for him should he make the choice to join Dortmund as the next step in his career.