Dominik Livakovic: The Croatia Goalkeeper and His Rise to Prominence

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There have been plenty of names, previously not considered too important, which managed to attract attention at the World Cup in Qatar. The likes of Argentina striker Julian Alvarez, Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Buonuo and midfielder Sofyan Ambrabat, Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol, they’ve all succeeded in raising the world-wide opinions on their quality and to the joy of their current clubs, their market values too. Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic certainly has his place on that list as well.

At the age of 27, Livakovic is not exactly a young prospect in the world of football, but in that aspect, there should at least be a decade more of ability to perform at the highest level combined with significant experience.

Having gone through the youth ranks at NK Zadar, Livakovic made his way into the senior setup in 2012, when he was 17. It took three years of playing there for Dinamo Zagreb to step up their interest and take him on, though they sent him back to Zadar on loan for 2015/16. But since his arrival to the country’s capital, Livakovic has made 262 appearances for Dinamo in all competitions, keeping 122 clean sheets.

Livakovic’s international debut came in January 2017, and he currently has 40 Croatia caps to his name. He was a part of the squad as Croatia made their way into the 2018 World Cup final, but as an understudy to Danijel Subasic. This time around, the spot between the posts was his, and he certainly proved he deserved it. A goalkeeper’s performance always depends on many things, not least the quality of the back line ahead of him or the quality of the opposition, and when the challenge of facing the formidable attackers of Brazil in the quarterfinals came his way, Livakovic made no less than 10 saves to keep his team in the game before they won through on penalties.

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Not much needs to be said about players like Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic or Marcelo Brozovic; those following the game know plenty about that midfield trio already, but Livakovic’s contribution to Croatia’s run to the semifinal in Qatar was equally great, of not more so. Coach Zlatko Dalic pointed to his goalkeeper when talking about the biggest difference maker in that match, with good reason.

Livakovic couldn’t stop Lionel Messi and his Argentina in the semifinal, but he once more played an important role in Croatia’s win over Morocco in the match for the third place and the bronze medal around his neck is certainly deserved.

Contrasting reports have been emerging lately about Bayern Munich’s supposed interest in signing Livakovic, after their No.1 Manuel Neuer broke his leg on holiday. CEO Oliver Kahn, a goalkeeping legend himself, recently said Bayern were not interested in the Dinamo man, but there are still reports saying a move to the Allianz Arena for Livakovic hasn’t been ruled out.

It feels it’s not quite the time to speculate on Livakovic’s future. His contract with Dinamo runs until the summer of 2024. But it’s also very likely that every club out there looking to sign a good No.1 will give the Croatia man serious consideration.

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