After looking at Sam Walker and Conor Clifford so far this week, Wednesday brings us another of this season’s standout performers at youth and reserve level. Swedish striker Marko Mitrovic has been in fine goalscoring form so far this campaign, and after an injury-curtailed first season we’re finally starting to see what he’s all about.
Marko originally agreed to join Chelsea early in the 2008 calendar year whilst still with Malmö, his home town club. Needless to say, his employers weren’t too happy with his decision to up sticks at the end of the season and since he was of no value to them long-term, they simply refused to play him. It meant he was vastly short of match fitness upon arriving at Cobham, but he had still found enough to continue his prolific goalscoring form for Sweden’s Under-17s, laying waste to all (including England) in the Nordic Tournament a few weeks before arriving.
We would first see Marko at the Cobham Cup in August, where he played in an Under-16 team which finished as runners-up. His four tournament goals gave him a share of the top goalscorer award, and off the back of his Swedish form, followers were rightly eager with anticipation to see what he could do when the league competition started. Unfortunately for everyone, especially Marko, he picked up the first of many injuries during his first year abroad. A thigh muscle problem was then followed by an achilles injury and a serious back problem which all but wiped out his debut season. When he was able to play, he managed to find the net five times in eight starts (with some sub appearances), reminding people of what he could do when given the chance.
A summer of rest and recuperation, and the arrival of his family to join him full time in England, has already paid dividends for him. After signing a professional deal upon turning 17 in June, he came into this season confident and fit, and has so far found the back of the net nine times, including friendlies. In league form he has already matched last season’s totals exactly – 5 goals in 8 starts – and we’re barely a third of the way into the season. He can score in so many different ways – a strong header against Watford, an agile close range finish against Charlton, and a stupendous volley from the edge of the area (think Torres vs Blackburn last season) with his weaker foot against Coventry.
He just knows where the goal is, and can find it at any time in almost any way. He already has the physique to dominate at a level above the Under-18s, and if his youth team form continues in the same vein he’ll surely get that chance, as Fabio Borini and Frank Nouble did last season. With Nouble gone, and Borini’s chances with the first team becoming greater as January approaches, he’ll almost certainly get his chance to show what he can do at the next level. If he can stay healthy, fit and confident, the goals will flow as predicted when he first arrived. All he’s ever done when wearing the blue of Chelsea is put the ball in the back of the net. It’s a rare commodity and one Chelsea will hope to reap the benefits of over the coming years. On Marko’s part, he’s doing all he can to accelerate that process.