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Vedran Jugović Signs With Jeonnam

(photo via novilist.hr)
Croatian midfielder joins Jeonnam on one year loan after eight years in The Croatian First Football League. 

In a move briefly discussed in the Transfer Talk segment, the Dragons have officially come to terms with Vedran Jugović for the 2016 season. Tremendously experienced for only 26 years old, Vedran has played in the Croatian Championship as well as European League matches against the likes of Stuttgart, Sevilla, Olympique Lyon, and Feyenord. So pressure won't be an issue at all since he's already proved he can play at a high level and hold his own. Following directly in the footsteps of his younger counterpart Mislav Oršić, Jugović also comes to Jeonnam by way of HNK Rijeka in The Croatian First Football League. In fact, in an interview with his agency HBR Sport Jugović said the majority of what he knows about K-League and Korea in general comes from Oršić, which would suggest we have the 2015 standout to thank for the move happening. He went on to say "[Oršić] told me that South Korea is very good quality of life, that the infrastructure and football are at the top level, so I look forward to a new challenge in my life."

Not exactly a prolific goal scorer with 12 to his name over an eight year run in the top flight in Croatia, his potential role with the Dragons would seem to be that of a facilitator for the offensive threats already in place. I'll readily admit I haven't watched a ton (okay any) Croatian First Football League, so for those of us a bit more familiar with the US Men's National Team setup he's been compared to Joe Corona, and it's a favorable comparison for the role he's likely to fill. Corona is a skilled passer that comfortably facilitates possession in the middle third of the field, distributes the ball well and has a knack for getting passes into space for teammates making attacking runs. When near the sidelines, Corona is able to find teammates in the box and hit them with pinpoint passes. An ability that makes him a threatening set-piece taker as well. Additionally Corona controls the majority of passes sent his way and can dribble past defenders once the ball's settled. If those qualities are indeed what we're getting in Jugović, then the Dragons offense may well be even more potent than at their height last season.

His arrival also suggests the transition from the preferred 4-3-3 of last year to a 4-4-2 with a lot of speed up the wings is not only possible, but favorable. With Stevo and newcomer Cho Suk-jae playing slightly behind him up top, Oršić can slot into the left mid with Jugović on the right providing crosses and defensive coverage for the target men. However, in the same HBR Sport interview, Jugović said of his preferred position "at the beginning of my career in NK Osijek I was playing in the middle, in NK Rijeka more on the wing, although the best feeling for me is in middle of the team." He also went on to say "only victory is important," and that he'll play anywhere, but the option of throwing him in the middle should be one that temps manager Noh Sang-rae. One of the myriad of reasons for the late summer slump last year was a predictable offensive strategy of running up the wings and lobbing it into the middle. Though Oršić and Jugović combining down the sides to make this happens has more promise than what was offered last year, it's still a bit more of the same. By placing Jugović in the center of the pitch, Jeonnam would not only give itself a reliable possession caretaker that can organize the attack, but would also allow for much easier communication with Oršić playing next to him as opposed to the opposite side of the field. With his control, Jugović could lead an attack more directly up the middle to offer a different strategy for defenders to consider and opening more lanes for Oršić, Cho, and Stevo to run into. Here's what my ideal lineup would look like if the Dragons had to take the field tomorrow:

Honestly, it'd be just as easy to throw together a 4-3-3 with Oršić on the left and Cho Suk-jae on the right up top, but this offers a far more balanced team in my opinion. Suk-jae is a natural poacher, so allowing him to play underneath gives more opportunities for rebounds and scraps. Also with Lee Seul-chan playing on the right offers more defensive coverage given his time spent at right back last season. However, regardless of where Jugović plays and in which formation, he's given the Dragons a few good problems to have in the midfield. There's still a lot of work to do with center backs and a potential CDM (come on, Leigh Broxham!),  but the window hasn't even technically opened yet and Jeonnam's in pretty sound shape.


  1. He sounds like a good player. All I know about him was that he was an unused sub in both games against Aberdeen this season in the Europa League (Aberdeen won 5-2 on aggregate)

    1. Everyone I've talked to is quite high on him, and the Corona comparison's a good one for what the Dragons need. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a ton of video on him, so I'll just have to wait and see him in person to assess what's what.

  2. I am a HNK Rijeka supporter and have watched Jugo in action many times. He has good ball skills and decent shot from inside the box. Rather than the middle of the park, he prefers playing on the wing or as a wide midfielder, particularly on the right side.


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