Tuesday’s Uefa Nations League game between Spain and Croatia will be of particular interest to one observer – Dinamo Zagreb winger Dani Olmo.
The Spain-born 20-year-old spent his youth career at La Masia but left Barcelona to make the move to the Croatian champions in 2014, going on to sign a professional contract at the Stadion Maksimir two years later.
Now Olmo is fully established in the Dinamo first team and has chalked up 15 goals and 14 assists in 68 appearances for the senior side since making his debut in February 2015. Speaking to As, Olmo said he “feels valued” at the club and that his coach, Nenad Bjelica, is “giving me a lot of confidence.”
The move certainly paid off for Olmo, who was named among the nominees for the 2018 Golden Boy award, the annual gong that selects the best under-21 footballer in Europe. “It’s an honour to be there,” Olmo said. “It will be difficult to win it but to see that your work is being recognised is nice anyway.”
Olmo: "Who wouldn’t want to play alongside Modric and Rakitic?"
Olmo’s swift rise to prominence has not yet though resulted in any further international call-ups after he represented Spain up to under-18 level, receiving his most recent cap in 2016. On the cusp of being granted citizenship in his adopted Croatia, the winger will soon have more than one opportunity to remedy that.
“I keep hoping that I’ll get a call [for the under-21s],” Olmo told As. “I’ve been playing at the top level in Croatia for three seasons now and I still haven’t achieved that goal. Ever since I was a kid my dream has always been to play for Spain.”
“All of the paperwork has been done,” Olmo added of his Croatian passport. “If in the future Spain decide they don’t want me, I could play for Croatia. It’s an honour that the World Cup runners-up want you to play for them. And who wouldn’t want to play alongside Modric and Rakitic?”