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The Croatia World Cup flyer Arsenal and Spurs must target

| 12.06.2014

With the footballing delights of Neymar, Luka Modric, Marcelo and Ivan Rakitic set to be on show in Sao Paulo during the World Cup’s opening fixture, the performance of emerging Croatia full-back Sime Vrsaljko may go largely unnoticed.

The Genoa regular is expected to get the nod at left-back from coach Niko Kovac for the clash against Brazil, which the tourists are 11/1 to win, with stalwart Ivan Strinic failing to make the plane through injury and deputy Danijel Pranjic struggling for fitness.

Vrsaljko started out as a midfielder at Dinamo Zagreb before being converted into a right wing-back, but the 22-year-old will showcase his versatility once again by playing on the other side of defence at the Arena de Sao Paulo.

Plenty of plaudits will be patting the six-footer on the back if he successfully prevents Brazil right-forward Hulk feeding Selecao goal-getter Fred, and rumoured former suitors Arsenal and Spurs should be keeping keen eyes on Vrsaljko’s contract situation in northern Italy.

North London’s biggest guns were confirmed fans of the Zadar native – alongside Manchester United and Manchester City – during his time in Dinamo’s famed academy.

The Rossoblu won the race for his €4 million signature last summer, but with no prospect of European football any time soon at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, coach Gian Piero Gasperini would struggle to keep hold of Vrsaljko if a Champions League heavyweight came calling.

Despite finishing outside the Premier League’s top-two for the ninth season in a row, Arsenal fit this particular bill.

Bacary Sagna is a racing certainty to leave the Emirates this summer, and with growing doubts surrounding Kieran Gibbs’ ability at the top level, the full-back ranks are in clear need of replenishment by Gunners coach Arsene Wenger.

However, new Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino will be even more desperate to secure the services of a new left-back once he’s settled into his new surroundings, with only injury-prone converted winger Danny Rose, Belgium centre-half Jan Vertonghen and previously-discarded Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto currently able to play there.

The Argentine will struggle to lure Luke Shaw from old club Southampton, with Chelsea and Manchester United thought to be buttering up the teenage England man, so Vrsaljko could be seen as a more realistic – and significantly cheaper – target.

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Alex Fortune