Why he’s here
In late July 2012 when the Czech Republic were coming to terms with their escapades at that year’s European Championships, a young winger by the name of Lukas Masopust (no relation to Josef) terrorised the Slavia Prague defence. On his debut in the top flight, he twisted this way and that and breezed past opposition players to tee up Lukas Vaculik and Vaclav Kolousek as Vysocina Jihlava raced into a 3-0 half-time lead at Eden.
It was a performance, a statement.
The next eighteen month saw his performances fluctuate, but during that time, he firmly cemented his reputation as one of the brightest young talents in the division. As the initial list was being drawn together at the end of 2013 he put together a neat little run in which he scored three times. He certainly has good timing, we’ll grant him that.
As an established presence at under 21 level and an ever improving performer in the Synot Liga, as 2014 was readying itself to begin rumours started floating that the likes of Sparta Prague and Viktoria Plzen were monitoring him. And with the pair conceivably in need of a new winger, big things were clearly on the horizon.
The past year has been…
…upward – despite six months out.
Like many of his fellow nominees, the winger has had a year filled with contrasting fortunes: The first six months solidified his reputation as one of the most promising talents in the league as Jihlava soared beyond all expectations under the guidance of Petr Rada. He retained his place in the under-21s for the March friendly against Norway and in the annual Czech football awards he came third in the vote for ‘Talent of the Year’, behind Sparta’s Pavel Kaderabek and Watford’s Matej Vydra.
By the end of the 2013-14 season, he had recorded five goals, notched up four assists and had seen his all-around performance improve immeasurably. Required to do a lot of work both in and out of possession, the Bozejov born winger showcased he was capable of putting in a lung-busting pressing-centric shift as and when was required. His consistency levelled out and it became hard to single out one major flaw in his game. It seemed only a matter of time before he progressed a level and became a target for clubs with European aspirations.
Then, as so often appears to be the case, injury struck.
There would be no summer transfer and it would be six months until the twenty-one-year-old returned back to the Jihlava first team for a league fixture.
When Masopust finally took to the field – against Teplice at the beginning of November – Jihlava were in the process of to hauling themselves out of a dreadful mess. That intense style that worked months before had faltered and the club were languishing towards the bottom of the Synot Liga. While it is overly simplistic to say that Masopust’s absence and a dip in form can be seen as cause and effect, Vysocina did missed his direct style of play and work ethic.
The following week he once again hopped off the bench and made an immediate impact. He gave Plzen’s David Limbersky the runaround and left the international fullback flat-footed. His second-half goal (and eventual winner) gave everybody a timely reminder of his game changing abilities.
Somewhere, Jaroslav Silhavy and Miroslav Pelta had a discussion. Shortly afterwards, the phone in Jihlava’s boardroom began to ring.
But there’s something of a ‘what if’ floating in the air that needs to be mentioned. It was no surprise that Viktoria Plzen and Sparta Prague were mentioned by Vysocina director Zdenek Tulis as clubs that had shown an interest, but what raised an eyebrow or two was that he noted Freiburg had been tracking the winger but backed away over the summer when Masopust suffered his injury.
What could have been?
As the latest member of Jablonec’s Galactico project, Lukas Masopust will now have the chance to showcase his talents for a side that will be competing to get into Europe and to win silverware. With due respect for Jihlava, it is the step up he deserves.
Capable of playing on either wing and as a second striker, Masopust is the perfect type of player for Silhavy to utilise to devastating effect. If the former Liberec manager gets creative, as we have seen in the past, then there’s no doubt in our mind that the stocky twenty-one-year-old will be at the forefront of the action.
First team football won’t come easily, but by the end of Jablonec’s January training camp, he should be the first choice to start on the left wing. And with his new club continuing to spend heavily in a bid to build a title-challenging side, 2015 should be a big, big year domestically.
His injury has seen him drop out of the Czech under 21 side, but if he plays regularly for his new club then he should waltz back into Jakub Dovalil’s thinking quickly. With fixtures against England and Portugal due in March, we hope to see Masopust dazzle at Strelnice and make Jakub Dovalil’s decision an easy one.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 6th January 2015