Yet another graduate of the Příbram academy, Matěj Chaluš had a stellar 2015 at youth level as he impressed during Příbram’s unlikely run in the UEFA Youth League and graduated through the ranks with the Czech national team, representing both the Under-17s and Under-18s with distinction.
Towards the end of the year, he was promoted to Příbram’s senior team and would make his full debut in the final game before the winter break, drawing praise from his coach and senior players alike.
Twelve months ago and after only two senior appearances for Příbram, I said this about the young and inexperienced defender
Well, a year later, you’ll be pleased to know that Matěj Chaluš is Příbram’s first-choice centre-back. Let’s file that prediction away in the ‘one’s that actually turned out to be correct in 2016’ file, which, sadly, appears to be very sparse.
However, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the talented 18-year-old.
Once the league season resumed after its customary winter snooze, Chaluš was partnered with the veteran Tomás Zápotočný. For the next game, he was paired with Jaroslav Tregler. After a couple of games, Zápotočný replaced Tregler. And then Chaluš was dropped.
Chaluš watched from the sidelines for a few weeks before returning back to the starting lineup, lining up alongside Zápotočný.
This continuous game of musical chairs did little to help anybody, let alone our young centre-back who was just a few matches into his senior career. Tellingly, it did little help for Příbram either and the Středočeský club slipped to defeat after defeat and would only avoid relegation to the second division thanks to a miraculously dour draw on the final day of the season.
Although the desire to chop-and-change on a weekly basis has gone, the rot that set in at Příbram during the last campaign has remained. The club are rock-bottom of the První Liga at the moment, six points from safety, and to compound matters, they have the division’s worst defensive record.
Because of this, it might not be an achievement or honour to say that Matěj Chaluš has been first-choice during this season’s woeful run. But to blame him for Příbram’s woes would be entirely unwarranted, given he has been one of the struggling club’s better performers.
Statistically, he’s far and away the club’s best defensive player: He leads rankings in tackles, clearances and interceptions. He’s certainly doing more than most to ensure that Příbram ship doesn’t ship five or six goals a game.
Chaluš has not become an all-conquering centre-back in the past twelve months and it’s doubtful that he will do whilst at attempting to put out fire after fire after fire at Příbram. That said, he’s doing everything he right and his stats for the last six months of 2016 are much better than those from the first half of last year.
He’s developing steadily, in spite of what’s going on around him.
Bar a miracle, Příbram will get relegated at the end of this season and their descent will leave Matěj Chaluš with a rather big decision to make: Does he try and push for a move to a club that’s still in the Czech top flight or does he continue developing whilst playing second division football?
There are merits to both options. If he does make the leap and leave Příbram then it has to be to a club that will give him playing time because a year sitting around on the bench won’t do him any favours.
Either way – whether he stays at the Energon Arena or whether he goes – it’s probably going to be an extremely important year.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 20th January 2017