PROFILING HIS BEST ATTRIBUTES ASSESSING HIS FUTURE ANALYSING HIS STATS LEARNING ABOUT HIS STORY SO FAR
Who is Adam Hložek?
Few players make their debut before they turn 18 years old, and almost none lay claim to more than 50 senior appearances prior to reaching such an age.
Adam Hložek is different though. Not only is he the youngest-ever player to feature for AC Sparta Prague and score in the Czech First League, he is also a regular fixture in the starting XI. And not only has the versatile attacker featured in 61 games for the historic capital club, he has amassed almost 5,000 minutes and scored 13 goals across all competitions.
Hložek was courted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs in his early teens, but has reaped the rewards of his decision to remain at Sparta. The choice was made at the behest of his agent Pavel Paska, who told Czech outlet iDNES that the most difficult thing to do was convince Hložek’s parents that continuing his development in the Czech Republic was the best option for all parties. To do so, Paska told them that their son would make his debut for the first team as a 16-year-old.
He was right. At 16 years, two months and one week old, Hložek came off the bench in a cup game to play his first minutes for his boyhood club. His first goal would come just seven minutes later.
Almost two years later, the attacker is once again being courted by a range of top-level European clubs after scoring seven goals and assisting a further four this season. Of similar value is the fact that he has appeared in 34 of Sparta’s 35 league games this season, starting 33 of them. Such production and consistency at just 17 years old – having turned 18 after the season concluded – bodes extremely well for his prospects a as a player and potential in better leagues.
Adam Hložek's Style of Play
Adam Hložek’s physical build and attacking skillset is reminiscent of a young Zlatan Ibrahimović. While the Czech youngster does not boast the goal-scoring record of the Ajax iteration of Zlatan, he is still two years younger than the Swede was during his first season in the Eredivisie.
Being shifted into playing out wide has not helped either. While he is competent playing on either flank, his qualities are not particularly conducive to wide play. Hložek is around 6’1” – so not a small, nimble winger capable of beating players easily when isolated one-on-one. He belongs up front, challenging for the ball in the air, and using his strength to hold up play and bring others into the game.
At 18, his ability in this area is incredible. Hložek launches himself into physical duels and battles competitively with much older players. He is even better in the air, where he is combative, excellent when defending at set-pieces, and clinical in the penalty box when afforded opportunities to head at goal or back across the penalty area for a team-mate to finish. He is not a beanpole; the Czech attacker is so effective in these duels because of his explosiveness and desire to get to the ball first.
His physical attributes also allow him to be a tremendously flexible asset from a tactical perspective. He can stand off the shoulder of the last man and look to dart onto balls in-behind on the counter, play as a target man that can hold the ball up for others, or swing wide to attack the channels to unlock space for other team-mates to exploit.
He does not only use his physical ability to his advantage in the attacking phase, though – he has also proven to be a very willing and able defender, particularly when playing out wide and tracking a runner back to support his full-back.
As a striker, the 18-year-old has proven to be both a bountiful goalscorer, especially considering his age, and capable of scoring some truly sumptuous goals. He has a myriad of finishes in his arsenal: curlers on the half-turn, dribbles past the goalkeeper into an open goal, flicked backheels, towering headers, long range thunderbolts, and he can do it all effectively on both sides of his body.
Considering his time spent out wide, his tally of nine goals in 3,000 minutes across all competitions is a handy return, although – even considering playing predominantly on the wing – the six-month goal drought that stretched from early September to early March is slightly concerning. He tends to get sucked into coming too deep to receive the ball when shunted onto the flank, giving him a lot of work to do to get into scoring areas.
An area in which he could improve – which would also help him to score more often – is as a ball carrier. When allowed to build up speed, he is good at bursting past players, though he also beats opponents by wrong-footing them on the turn. He does not dribble much in isolated situations, but should excel if he were to do so: he has the Eden Hazard-like thickness to bounce off players while being an extra four or five inches taller than the Belgian.
Forecasting Adam Hložek's Future Prospects
RB Leipzig are one of the teams that have been linked with Hložek; the thought of a Julian Nagelsmann link-up is very exciting. The variety of roles Hložek can play would make him an excellent Timo Werner replacement and he could easily work in tandem with another striker. Not only would Hložek be a boon to Nagelsmann, the German coach has a strong track record in developing young players too.
Links to AC Milan had formed when Ralf Rangnick seemed destined to join the club. That is no longer happening, but nonetheless, the idea of seeing Hložek paired with Ibrahimović at Milan is very appealing. There really is no shortage of suitors. Interestingly, Sparta Prague sporting director is none other than former Arsenal playmaker Tomáš Rosický, raising the faint possibility that he could be of interest to Arsenal, a club in need of rebuilding their attacking unit.
There is no particular rush, though. Hložek has just turned 18, and the Czech league has already proven to be a worthy place for him to develop his attacking craft. But staying at Sparta must involve more playing time as a centre-forward. If he can score in volume while playing as a striker, he will have little left to prove to potential suitors.
Adam Hložek is a dynamic all-round striker with a great physical profile and an ability to finish in a variety of ways.
He can improve as a ball-carrier when playing out wide. At times, he also drops too deep and limits his offensive threat at times.