Dual citizenship Sydney FC defender Anton Mlinaric is on a two-week trial at Dinamo Zagreb, as he auditions to become the latest raw recruit to join a talent factory which has produced some of Europe’s elite players.
Just last year Croatia’s most successful club banked $24 million from the sale of fellow left-sided teenage stopper Joško Gvardiol to Red Bull Leipzig, in a shining example of the club’s business model at play.
Gvardiol, now 19, was loaned back to Zagreb to continue his development.
Mlinaric, 18, can only look on in wonderment at such deals, as he too bids to win a contract with the team which has given the world Luka Modrić, Zvonimir Boban, Davor Šuker, Dario Simić and was once home to Mark Viduka.
Should the 21-time Croatian champions opt to make the Sky Blues an offer for Mlinaric - whose pro deal with Sydney expires in 2022 - it’s unlikely the club would stand in his way.
“Sydney FC have been great in understanding and allowing Anton to have this opportunity and trial with one of Europe’s most productive clubs for kids to grow and develop,” said his agent James Hardy.
“He is currently training with Dinamo's B team and they will be carefully assessing him over the next two weeks before the (Croatian transfer) window closes on February 15.
“It's no secret Dinamo has developed some of the best players in the world and now that Anton is about to receive his Croatian citizenship he is a player that they want to look at.”
The former Blacktown, St George and Marconi junior - who has yet to make a senior debut for Sydney - was last year linked with a trial at Dynamo Kyiv.
But stringent COVID-19 travel regulations scuppered that plan, paving the way for his trek to Croatia.
The ball-playing centre-back grew up in Sydney’s west and played all of the Joeys' matches in Brazil at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Sydney FC were contacted for comment.