When Espanyol were negotiating the arrival of Firmino from Porto which in the end turned into 4 in 3 out, Vlasic was very much a make weight to bolster numbers and give cover. A player who IRL has struggled for gametime at West Ham, since his big money move, im some quarters would be deemed a gamble, and in truth probably was. Vlasic is an international player who had twice now found England tough, but elsewhere has certainly shown his promise. As a player who can play across the attacking areas of Midfield, he has found himself thrown into first team action straight away with 3 starts and 2 appearances from the bench, as the Spanish side has struggled with injuries and suspensions.
3 assist, a goal and a man of the match award is a pretty good return, during a period in which Espanyol are 8 games unbeaten.
Oyarzabel and Rodriguez have both departed the club and were occupying the wide areas prior to the arrival of Vlasic, Bardhi and Ilicic. Espanyol’s need for strikers was a major Catalyst in cashing in on the clubs prize asset.
“Our focus during negotiations was very much secure that top striker, knowing it would cost us big. Firmino coming in was major business, with us losing Oyarzabal, Henrique and youth player Vasco Sousa who could be anything. However we gained promising Turkish star Akturkoglu, French fullback Perraud, and an under the radar deal clincher which was Vlasic. My initial thoughts on Vlasic was he could cover for injuries, impact in the cup and be a possible makeweight later down the line if things didnt work out. However he is going to cause me a dilemma as players become available. We are currently without Firmino (suspended) Wijnaldrum and Bardhi (injured), however as they return there is now real potential that Vlasic could keep Firmino out of the side. We are performing well, and to change the system to play both Firmino and Suarez is not something we may look to do at this stage. We are still building and will need some luck on updates with players maintaining ratings long enough for others to gain ratings. We had a poor start to the season, and addressed what I felt was killing us, its a balancing act who can you lose and who can you gain. Vlasic is a good example of a player below 90 rating who can do a job in the top flight if there is enough quality around him to take the rating hit. We are on our best run since I arrived 8 unbeaten, despite us suffering injuries and suspensions, in that run we’ve played Chelsea, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern, which is incredible given the changes. Division 1 and top100 gets harder by the day. The transfer market is buoyant, teams continue to be active in improving their rosters and unless you are continually looking to improve you could find yourself being left behind”.