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Ivan Sunjic is a coach's dream

Ivan Sunjic with the Man of the Match award from the Middlesbrough game
Ivan Sunjic with the Man of the Match award from the Middlesbrough game

I think he is a player who understands this league and has managed to perform from his first day. That is not easy.

Pep Clotet on Ivan Sunjic

Ivan Sunjic is the ideal kind of player for Pep Clotet.

And the Croatian midfielder has the capability to get even better as the season wears on.

Sunjic has made an impressive start to his Blues career after a Club record transfer from Dinamo Zagreb.

Clotet admits that he thought it was a 'long shot' when Blues first began to make overtures for the player who captained his country in the Under-21s European Championship.

But he coudn't be happier that Sunjic is on board and bringing his talent and appreciation of the midfielder's role to the mix.

"He has established himself very well in that position," said Clotet.

"And I think he is a player who understands this league and has managed to perform from his first day. That is not easy.

"He is a player who puts the team before himself and that is something very difficult to find in young players.

"As a coach, you always want players to have that mindset.

"Apart from that, you have all the technical elements in him. His positioning is always right, his body positioning, on every duel, his protection of the ball.

"He knows when to play one touch, two touch, to play forward or when to calm down.

"And I think you will see a better player as the season goes on."

Sunjic was being eyed up by numerous clubs and Clotet reveals he has been tracking his progress for a fair while now.

"In the summer the Club's scouting department was working on options for different midfielders. Ivan was flagged as one option.

"I knew the club from many years ago. When I was at Espanyol under-17s we went to play a tournament at Zagreb.

"Then I stayed for a few days after, met everyone there and analysed how they worked at their Academy.

"I was impressed, very impressed. That was in 2007 and I have always followed the work they do and their players, and I have tracked Ivan's progress.

"At the end of the day, a huge credit to the Club. The Club managed to bring him in and that says a lot about the ambition of the owners to get a player of Ivan's ability here.

"In the summer when we talked about Ivan, I thought it was a long shot but if we could get him, fantastic.

"It showed me how passionate the owners are to build the team, this Club, and to attract players like him.

"Ivan has come from a club that is used to playing at a high level, they have a fantastic football Academy in Zagreb. They produce these kind of players and I am so happy he chose Birmingham."

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