Lovre Kalinic’s poor spell at Aston Villa and his failure to secure a transfer away has cost him his place in the national side. Zlatko Dalic dropped Kalinic to the bench and selected Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
Croatia played two games over the international break, winning 4-0 away against Slovakia but drawing 1-1 with Azerbaijan. In both games, Likavokic was given the nod ahead of Kalinic. We take a closer look at just how grave the situation is for the Croatian stopper.
Kalinic frozen out by Smith
Kalinic joined Aston Villa in the January 2019 transfer window – paying a whopping £7m to Belgian side Gent (as per talkSPORT). While Gent will be laughing all the way to the bank, it is clear that Kalinic has been an expensive flop for the Villans.
He only played eight matches for Aston Villa before Dean Smith lost faith in him. A series of error-strewn displays prompted Smith to drop Kalinic and play Jed Steer. This coincided with Aston Villa’s rapid rise up the league table to win promotion.
This season, Kalinic has dropped even further down the pecking order. He is third, if not fourth, choice at Aston Villa after the arrival of Tom Heaton. This has hampered his international hopes.
Aston Villa move away from Kalinic-style signing
Smith has learned his lesson from watching Orjan Nyland and Kalinic in goal last season. He placed his faith in Jed Steer, who was much more reliable than the Norwegian and Croatian stoppers.
In the summer, he wanted a new goalkeeper. And rather than take another big-money risk as he did with Kalinic, Smith decided to sign Heaton. The England international is proven in the Premier League and this has shown already. It looks like Kalinic was a gamble that did not pay off.
January exit necessary
At this stage of his career, it is time that Kalinic leaves. The 29-year-old will not regain his Croatia starting spot unless he is playing regularly. And that is simply not going to happen at Villa Park.
Late in the summer window, three clubs from Germany and France wanted Kalinic on loan (Sky Sports). Given the length of his contract, a loan move is most likely but any exit would help him and also get his wages off the books for Villa.