West Ham United’s £33 million new boy Nikola Vlasic looks set for his first start when the Hammers take on Dinamo Zagreb in his home country tomorrow.
West Ham’s first Europa League group stage match is arguably their most difficult, away to Croatia’s top side.
One man who knows all about what the Hammers are about to face is new signing Vlasic.
Vlasic will know all about fierce former rivals ahead of expected West Ham debut in Zagreb
The Croatian international came through at Dinamo’s fierce rivals Hajduk Split.
After joining West Ham on deadline day from CSKA Moscow, Vlasic impressed in a brief cameo as a substitute against Southampton at the weekend.
David Moyes needs someone to replace Jesse Lingard’s goals and assists after he snubbed a return to West Ham.
Croatian former Hammer Igor Stimac has followed Vlasic’s career closely having both been former Split and Croatia stars.
Croatian ex Hammer Stimac tells Moyes what he must do to get the best out of fellow countryman Vlasic
Stimac, now manager of India, played at West Ham alongside the likes of Paolo Di Canio.
And the ex West Ham centre-back has told Moyes what he must do to help his fellow countryman do just that and shine for West Ham (whufc.com).
“He (Vlasic) can do a lot, but obviously he needs to find a way to become part of the team as soon as possible,” Stimac told whufc.com.
“It’s not an individual sport, you need to adjust your individual qualities into the system. I am sure David Moyes will find a way to make everything easier for Niksi – as we call him…
“If you stand by Nikola, if you watch his back and take care of his confidence then he can do amazing things you know.
Vlasic could get first start in Europa and be used up front against Man United?
“Nikola had a fantastic spell in Russia for a few years and was one of the best players there in the country, definitely. He’s a regular with the Croatian national team and he matured enough to have great seasons with West Ham, I am sure about that.”
Michail Antonio looks set to start up front for West Ham in Zagreb after his sending off at the Saints ruled him out of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United.
But Vlasic could be used as a forward in Antonio’s absence when the Red Devils come to the London Stadium on Sunday.
Before then he is expected to get his first start in his homeland on Thursday night as the Hammers kick off their European tour.