Position: Right-back / centre-back
Club: Varese (on loan from AC Milan)
Why he’s here
Simic, a defender capable of playing either centrally or on the right, was bought by Genoa before he’d even played in a competitive fixture for Slavia Prague. After moving to the shores of the Ligurian Sea, he was soon snapped up by AC Milan and went on to feature for I Rossoneri’s youth sides in the fledgling UEFA Youth League. He was also a regular for his country at under 19 level.
The past year has been…
…all about finding the right level.
Being on the books of a great European side is always precarious, especially as an unproven youngster harbour a fair amount of potential. The pressure is there to succeed and progress into the first-team, but not many people do: The line between success and failure can often be determined by a roll of a dice and not making it shouldn’t blot any copy book. In that respect, the past twelve months for the former Slavia youth has been all about finding his natural level at this moment in time.
2014 has seen Simic continue to play regularly for Milan’s Primavera side; make his debut for the senior side in a pre-season friendly, against Renate; play a handful of times for the Czech under 20s at the tail end of the year and – importantly – move to Serie B club Varese on loan. Out of all those achievements, it’s the latter landmark that we’re most interested in – A cameo in a pre-season friendly for AC Milan is all well and good, as is continued recognition by your country as you progress through the age groups, but nothing beats the opportunities that first-team football brings.
Varese’s form somewhat belies their position as the last team in Serie B. They’ve won a quarter of their league fixtures and only prop up the other twenty-one teams because of
- The league’s congested nature
- A three-point penalty, which when removed would see Varese leap up four places
- A leaky defence (but not as bad as Trapani’s who have managed to concede forty (40!), yet sit seventh)
Being a defender – and one that has tended to play centrally for the club – the last point is a concern.
But as always there is a bigger picture.
If we concern ourselves with statistics, then Il Leopardi are a better side with Stefan Simic than they are without him.
At the time of writing Varese are less likely to concede (1.57 p/g versus 1.73 p/g) and are more likely to pick up at least a point (66% versus 55%) with the former Slavia youth in their defensive four, something which makes his position as starter one week and substitute the next slightly annoying for those who like to adopt an analytic approach.
What is clear though is that Simic has moved up in the world and is fighting for first-team football, something which much be applauded. It’s been a solid 2014, that’s for sure.
It’s quite an obvious statement but over the next twelve months, we’d like to see more of the same from Stefan Simic. At nineteen, he has many years in professional football left, and he clearly has the potential and ability to become a mainstay in a top division somewhere. Whether that’s with Milan or not remains to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll return to the Czech Republic with his tail between his legs anytime soon.
With twenty-one league fixtures still to come for Varese, Simic should continue to get plenty of opportunities on the football pitch over the next five months. But after the Serie B season ends what’s his next move? Will he remain in Lombardy (it is understood that Il Leopardi can purchase him once his loan deal expires), or is it back to Milan and an uncertain summer?
He’s good enough; hopefully, he is given the chance to prove it on a consistent basis.
Onwards and upwards Stefan.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 8th January 2015