Stade Rennais FC have a new left-footed midfield string-puller ready to dominate the opposition if last Sunday's 4-1 win over Olympique Lyonnais is anything to go by. Step forward: Lovro Majer.
Majer arrived at Roazhon Park in the summer, five days before Eduardo Camavinga departed for Real Madrid. A calf injury meant that it wasn't until the weekend just gone that he made his first start for les Rouge et Noir, though, but my, was it worth the wait.
The 23-year-old Croatian enjoyed 74 touches of the ball against Lyon and completed 33 passes, many of them key. He would have had his first few Ligue 1 Uber Eats assists had Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes not been in such miserly mood, but what else is there to know?
Born in Zagreb in January 1998 - six months before Croatia finished third at France '98; their maiden FIFA World Cup appearance as in independent nation - Majer joined record champions Dinamo Zagreb for the first time aged eight, but he left again at 12 and eventually made his top-flight debut with city rivals Lokomotiva.
By March 2016, then 18, Majer scored a brace for Lokomotiva against Dinamo in a 4-1 win at the Stadion Maksimir - Lokosi's first victory over their more illustrious rivals in 28 attempts. Eighteen goals, 16 assists, an international cap and a Football Oscar as the best under-21 player in the league later, and Dinamo bought him back in 2018, handing him the No.10 jersey.
Despite his undoubted talent, Majer has not had much luck with injury. Damaged ankle ligaments allowed now-RB Leipzig man Dani Olmo to pull ahead of him as Dinamo's first-choice attacking midfielder initially, but he concluded his Dinamo career with a century of games, and Rennes ended up fending off competition from the likes of Olympique de Marseille and Fiorentina to sign him in the summer.
Style of play:
An elegant, left-footed midfielder, Majer's 5'9" frame means that - injury aside - he is able to fend off opposition defenders, a roll of the shoulder and drag of the foot often leaving them standing before he pings a pass to a teammate with unerring accuracy.
Career tallies of 37 goals and 43 assists to date are the story of a player who is equally able to take chances as he is make them, and comparisons with the likes of Olympique Lyonnais' Houssem Aouar and Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe appear to be eminently understandable.
Majer was handed his Rennes debut in August, replacing Benjamin Bourigeaud for the final eight minutes of the Bretons' 2-0 loss at Angers SCO in Round 4. The aforementioned calf strain meant that he had to wait until October to get a run in the team, but he has seized his chance. Majer provided assists for winning goals against RC Strasbourg Alsace at home and NS Mura in Europe before being handed his first start against Lyon last Sunday.
It was the first time since the Round 2 draw with Stade Brestois 29 that coach Bruno Génésio had used a 4-3-3 formation. With that extra man in central midfield being Majer and Sunday's performance against Lyon Rennes' best of the season, expect to see that continue in upcoming games against Montpellier Hérault SC in Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Vitesse Arnhem in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Watch: Highlights of Rennes' 4-1 thrashing of Lyon
What they said:
"You've seen his quality, his ability to keep the ball under pressure, to trigger assists through a lot of traffic, when the tempo is high. He's an honest player, knows how to play one-touch and when to keep the ball when it's needed. He nearly had an exceptional assist for Martin Terrier in the first half."
- Génésio impressed after Majer's first start.
"It's nice to read and hear comparisons with Luka Modric. I can only learn from him, absorb his moves. I have a long was to go to reach Modric, but I think I'm on the right track. When it comes to comparisons with him it's clear there are many other factors. We have the same initials, 'LM' and wear the same number so we appear quite similar. It's up to me to work hard to reach the highest possible level. I think I will!"
- Majer following his latest call-up for Croatia.