Aston Villa have made their first signing of the winter window, with Croatian International goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic joining from Gent.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)

The January transfer window is quickly approaching and Aston Villa have already gone right after a player that the supporters have been asking for. 

Lovre Kalinic has already agreed terms to be the newest goalkeeper to join Aston Villa. 

But who is this mysterious goalkeeper and will this be the only bit of business that Dean Smith and Aston Villa will be looking at? And at 7 million pounds reported fee, will Aston Villa receive a proper return on such a hefty investment? 

Kalinic, a Croatian international, is currently playing his football for Gent in Belgium and will be until the January window opens. Kalinic has been linked with Villa before with Remi Garde wanting the 6 foot 7 inch goalkeeper at Villa Park while he was head coach in 2015. Crystal Palace has been involved with links to Kalinic as well this season, with rumours swirling back in the November that Palace was ready and prepared to spash big sums of money to secure a fresh player between the sticks. 

Kalinic is flourishing at the international level after Croatia were runners-up in the World Cup this year. While he only played one game during Croatia’s famous World Cup run in a Group Stage game, he has a lot to look forward to for his country. Almost immediately after Croatia lost out in the World Cup Final, Croatian number one goalkeeper Danijel Subašić announced his retirement from international football. It is now Kalinic’s time to shine for his country as he is now effectively and assuredly the new full-time goalkeeper for Croatia. 

At club level, Kalinic is having a season that will not be exactly promising for Aston Villa supporters. Gent have played 14 league games so far, and Lovre Kalinic has been the ‘keeper for every fixture. Of the 14 games that Kalinic has played for Gent, an alarming 28 goals have wound up behind him. A simple math check will prove that Kalinic is watching an average of two goals per game go flying past him and into the net. By comparison, Aston Villa’s number one goalkeeper Ørjan Nyland has conceded 28 goals in 20 games played. While goalkeepers need tonnes of help from the defence in front of them, the Juniper Pro League in Belgium does not appear to be a hot-bed for defensive stars. On the flip side, Aston Villa aren’t exactly the most defensively astute team at the present day. Villa are still with only two identifiable centre-backs and that may also be a position that Villa manager Dean Smith tries to fortify in the upcoming transfer market.

Villa already have some serious depth at the goalkeeper position. Ørjan Nyland has been the man between the sticks for the Villa for the majority of the season but has shown lapses of concentration added with letting in what supporters are seeing as easy goals. Sitting behind Nyland is one of the most ominous signings that Villa have made in recent years in Andre Moreira. Moreira is in fact on loan from Atletico Madrid, but has only played once in an Aston Villa shirt this season and it was in a 1-0 win against Yeovil Town in the EFL Cup back in mid-August. Veteran goalkeeper Mark Bunn is also still employed by Aston Villa, but is looking like more of a goalkeeper concierge than an actual player these days. Bunn is well liked and appreciated among the squad, but it may be time for Dean Smith to look at moving the 34-year old on in the January window. Jed Steer is also an Aston Villa goalkeeper at the present time, but all signs point towards him finishing out the season on loan with Charlton Athletic. 

In the event that Lovre Kalinic becomes an Aston Villa player, supporters of the Claret & Blue will be sure to want a keeper that can handle the pressure of playing for such a prestigious club. Nyland has been improving with time, but there have been serious claims by small groups of Aston Villa supporters that he is not up to the standard that Villa should be looking for. Will Lovre Kalinic be that goalkeeper? Only time will tell.

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