After finishing as the top scorer in the Fortuna Liga in 22/23 with 18 goals and 3 assists, Krstović’s value is at an all time high. The 23 year old Montenegrin started his career with Zeta in his homeland, racking up 36 goals in 67 games over the course of 3 seasons. An unsuccessful move to Crvena Zvezda followed, and after 2.5 years he left to join Dunajska Streda in Slovakia. A steady first season with 9 goals and 4 assists precluded his excellent 22/23 campaign. This was noticed at an international level, and Krstović made his debut for Montenegro early in 2022.

Nikola likes to be the focal point of the attack. He stays long, sitting either on the shoulder of the defender, or in the space in between players. He stays in these positions to open up space between the defence and midfield, and will look to receive the ball to feet. A ball up to him is normally followed by an excellent first touch, be it in the air or on the ground. His first touch will either be a quick touch to a teammate, or with intention to use his impressive strength to hold off a defender and use intelligent play to bring other into the game. This could be a couple of touches followed by a good pass, or just a showing of strength until a player is there to support him.

Not only does he act as a focal point centrally, he also uses his tactical awareness to do this from wider positions. When Nikola notices the full backs have pressed forward, he will exploit the gap left by the defender out wide, and aim to receive the ball into space. Not only does he have an impressive touch with his back to goal, he is also an effective dribbler. He’s fast, yet not lightning quick, and is happy to take on opponents in a 1 on 1 situation. So when he gets the ball out wide, he’ll find a way to create something.

I’ve been really impressed with the vision he has on the football pitch. He’s constantly scanning, and can see things that would even be hard to see from the stands. Whether it’s a lovely first time touch to open up space, an impressive pass found whilst on the full dribble, or a one two with a move into space that you didn’t think existed, as if he’s got his own internal navigation system.

Now, after saying all this, I’ve yet to speak about his most valuable asset: his goal scoring ability! Most of his goals come from either his tenacious attitude to chase any half chance to score, an intelligent move to find space in the box, or his ability on the ball to find a half yard of space to get a powerful and accurate shot away. He scores with both feet and also his head, and even though the majority of his goals come from inside the box, he does have the ability to score from range.

The defensive side of his game is simple. He doesn’t chase down opponents endlessly. Instead, he will take up good positions to block off passing lanes, and also leave him in a good position to receive the ball if a turnover has occurred. 

Krstović is hard working, intelligent, and very confident in his ability. He has shown in previous seasons that he has the ability to score goals, but he’s now showing he can do it at a higher level than previously, and has added other important aspects to his game. Now that DAC have surprisingly exited European competitions after one round, we may see him being tempted elsewhere to continue his career for what could be a record transfer fee for the Slovakian club.

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