It’s not perhaps the most exciting news we’ve ever reported around here, but we can officially say that 18-year-old Slovenian striker Jan Mlakar has joined Serie B newcomers Venezia for the year. We’re not completely clear on all of the details, but we’ve heard rumors that the Leoni Alati (holy crap, Venezia have the best nicknames—Leonia Alati, Lagunari, Arancioneroverdi) will have an option to buy him at the end of the deal. Should that be the case, though, Fiorentina will have a buyback clause, although nobody seems to know what those hypothetical fees would be.
Mlakar joined the Viola academy back in 2015 from hometown club Domzale. He was a revelation in his first season with the Primavera, striking 17 goals in 24 appearances. He wasn’t quite as efficient this year, but 17 goals and 4 assists in 36 appearances is still pretty darn impressive.
He’s a bit of a throwback striker, too, who’s most comfortable working in the box and using his clever movement to shake a defender and turn home a cross or a through ball. He’s built pretty sturdily for a teenager, but he’s also got a surprising turn of pace and a good first touch. It’s his excellent finishing, though, that really sets him apart. Best-case scenario is that he winds up being a stronger, faster Nikola Kalinić.
Venezia’s the perfect landing spot, too, as they’re rather thin up front; first-choice center forward Álex Geijo struck just 10 goals for them last year and turns 36 in November, and there’s not much proven talent behind him. Manager Filippo Inzaghi should give him every chance to earn a starting berth, which is really all we can ask for at this point.
Venezia is hardly the most glamorous team around, but this could be the first stop on a dazzling career for Jan Mlakar. Remember the name, because he’ll probably be firing them home for Fiorentina within 2 years.