Position: Centre midfield
Over the course of 2014, Michal Travnik established himself with Slovacko’s first-team picture before forcing his way into the Uherske Hradiste side’s midfield with a bang as he registered a handful of goals and assists in the weeks following his promotion. He was a kid in form and somebody who looked like he could go places.
During this time, he had also installed himself within Jakub Dovalil’s Czech U21 squad. Not a starter, but it was clear that he was viewed as a trusted hand that could benefit from the misfortune of others.
If 2014 was all about progression then Travnik spent the majority of 2015 consolidating his position as one of the better prospects in the Synot Liga without ever really grabbing the headlines. Lining up in the centre of midfield within Svatopluk Habanec’s favoured 4-1-4-1 formation he became something of a creative fulcrum for the side. However, his excellent run of form leading into the year would end as the entire Slovacko side began resumed competitive duties in unspectacular fashion.
Even as results and performances dipped, the midfielder maintained an encouraging level of consistency, often match a rejuvenated Lubos Kalouda when it comes to pass completion percentages and other statistics that you would typically associate with a forward-looking midfielder. For what it is worth, he also ended the 2014-15 season as Slovacko’s highest-rated player on the league’s Chance Index, a strange formula that attempts to determine how creative an individual is.
Through this period, Travnik continued to make an impression for the Czech U21s. He had a solid outing against England at Letna and followed that encouraging display up with an eye-catching forty-five-minute outing against Ukraine in Austria. This meant that when Vaclav Kadlec’s tournament was unfortunately ended after twenty-odd minutes, it was Travnik who Dovalil turned to. But, after a solid showing against Serbia in a game that was already won, he was disappointingly anonymous in the winner-take-all clash with Germany.
Not that this quelled the rumours that he would be leaving Slovacko. Shortly after the Czech Republic’s group stage exit, he signed a three-year deal with Jablonec, becoming the latest member of Miroslav Pelta’s ambitious Galacticos project in the north-east.
Since making the switch, life at Strelnice has been slow and steady: After starting this season as the primary backup to Martin Pospisil, he would take on an expanded role as Jablonec tepidly lurched through the autumn, taking advantage of the fluctuating form of both Pospisil and the Slovak international, Jan Gregus. Just one assist in ten league games is underwhelming given his ability and previous history in the division. But then again, Jablonec have been pretty poor all autumn. Now the senior member of a squad in transition he has become an important figure for Vitezslav Lavicka as the former Sparta boss attempts to usher in a new generation of talent.
The one positive from a year of relative indifference is that he has become an important figure for Vitezslav Lavicka’s restyled Czech Under-21s. Now the senior member of the group he has taken on an expanded role at international level and has helped lead an unproven unit to a number of encouraging results
Martin Pospisil has been linked with a transfer away from Strelnice, a move that should give Michal Travnik a clear run at nailing down a position in the Jablonec midfield for good. But, as with all transfer speculation, whether that piece of gossip is rooted in fantasy or reality is another thing entirely, especially when the team is under new management.
Travnik has shown that he can run the midfield at a mid-table Czech club (and to some degree at international level as well), but now he needs to step up and prove that he can become the creative fulcrum of a side with European ambition.
The talent and potential are there, but he has to become more clinical at Strelnice. If he does, then he could easily grow into a commanding midfield presence.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 16th January 2016