Mario Pašalić – Introducing Spartak Moscow’s New Croatian Midfielder

Mario Pašalić – Introducing Spartak Moscow’s New Croatian Midfielder

Manuel Veth –

After winning their first match on matchday 3 against Krasnodar Spartak Moscow have finally made a significant signing in the summer transfer window. The Myaso have signed the 22-year-old midfielder Mario Pašalić from Chelsea on a one-year loan deal.

Born in Mainz Germany Pašalić was brought through Hajduk Split’s prolific youth academy before being signed by Chelsea in 2014 for €2.5 million. But as it is often the case with young players who sign for Chelsea Pašalić would never play for the London based club. Instead, Pašalić was sent straight on loan to Elche where he played 31 games in La Liga and four games in the Copa del Rey.

Mario Pašalić had a good season with AC Milan last year. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Mario Pašalić had a good season with AC Milan last year. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Up next came a loan move to AS Monaco where Pašalić played 16 games in Ligue 1, three games in the Coupe de France, one game in the Coupe de la Ligue as well as nine matches in the UEFA Champions League qualification and UEFA Europa League group stage. Pašalić had a good season at the same time AS Monaco were not interested in extending the loan deal and Pašalić was sent back to Chelsea.

Pašalić Trapped in Chelsea’s Eternal Loan System

Instead of staying in the United Kingdom, however, Pašalić was sent out on loan once again. This time the destination was AC Milan. It was perhaps his best season since he moved from Croatia to Western Europe. Playing 24 games in Serie A in which he scored five goals Pašalić was one of the better players for Milan last season.

Having played two friendly matches for the Croatian national team in 2014 and 2015 Pašalić was failed to be nominated for two straight years. But following his strong year in Italy Pašalić was once again chosen this summer and although he did not make an appearance in Croatia’s 1-0 defeat to Iceland Pašalić now seems to be back in contention for a spot on the Croatian national team.

With this in mind, Pašalić could have been back in contention to break into Chelsea’s first squad. Especially, after the London based club sold Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matić to Manchester United. But Chelsea have perfected the loan to sell system. The English Premier League club signs top talent from around the world and then sends them out on loan to prepare them either for the first team or to sell them at a profit.

Mario Pašalić has already become the 25th player this season to be sent out on loan by Chelsea. The club in fact never considered keeping the Croatian in England this season. The 22-year-old midfielder has been linked with several clubs this summer including the Bundesliga sides Hoffenheim, Mainz and SC Freiburg.

Spartak Benefitted from Carrera’s Connections

In the end, Spartak won the battle for the gifted midfielder. Mostly thanks to Spartak Moscow’s head coach Antonio Carrera, who used to work together with Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte at Juventus Turin and the Italian national team.

Massimo Carrera's connection to Antonio Conte helped secure Pašelić's signature. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

Massimo Carrera’s connection to Antonio Conte helped secure Pašalić’s signature. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

This connection was now vital for Spartak to bring in the midfielder. Carrera plays a very similar style of football to Antonio Conte. Those more familiar with Conte’s history have even suggested that Carrera was the tactical mastermind behind Conte’s work at Juventus and Italy.

With Spartak playing a similar style to Chelsea and also in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League Chelsea must have felt comfortable to loan the midfielder to Spartak. Spartak in the meantime add much-needed depth to their midfield. Valued at €8 million Pašalić can play in central, defensive and attacking midfield. He has also been used on either wing in the past and thanks to his frame; he is 188cm tall, is dangerous in the oppositions box. Finally, Pašalić has a fine foot and is a threat at set-piece situations.

With Pašalić at the club, Spartak have finally answered Zenit’s transfers. But whether the midfielder will be enough to challenge the Saint Petersburg based club remains to be seen. Spartak will certainly have to add another player up front to be prepared for a long season at home and in Europe.

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.