Martin Baturina: Croatia’s Long-term Answer to Luka Modrić?

Club: Dinamo Zagreb
Nationality: Croatia
Position(s): AM, CM
Preferred Foot: Right
Height: 5’8”/172cm
Age: 21
Strengths: technical ability, dribbling, creativity, passing, vision, long shots
Areas for Development: physicality, aerial duels


From Josip Šutalo (Ajax – €20.5m) to Joško Gvardiol (RB Leipzig – €36.8m), Dinamo Zagreb has sold several of its up-and-coming young stars for massive fees in recent years, and the latest to earn a big move to Europe’s top five leagues could very well be Martin Baturina. A creative playmaker with an eye for goal, Baturina left his native Split for the capital in 2017, working his way up the academy ranks before breaking onto the scene during the 2022/23 season with 6 goals and 3 assists in 34 league appearances for the first team.



The son of former Croatia international Mate Baturina, he has proven indispensable for a Dinamo Zagreb side that is looking to claim a seventh straight league title. The Purgeri currently sit second in the table, five points behind Rijeka, with a game in hand, and they’ll be counting on their 21-year-old midfielder as they look to prolong their dynasty and make up the distance in the final weeks of the campaign.


Baturina boasts an incredible composure on the ball, capable of reading the game a few steps ahead of the opponent and boasting impeccable vision for his age. He is skilled at playing his teammate through with a perfectly weighted pass so that they don’t have to break their stride to receive the ball, and he has proven a consistent threat for the opposition thanks to his technical ability in possession.


He is an agile dribbler whose close control and smooth first touch allow him to hang onto the ball amid pressure and carry it into the final third, capable of weaving his way out of tight areas and finding space that seemingly did not exist beforehand. A creative genius who can break down the most compact deep blocks, his vision and spatial awareness allow him to recognize patterns of play before executing the right decision with ease.

Another strength of Baturina’s game is his long shots. Whenever he finds himself in space on the edge of the box, he’s never afraid to test the goalkeeper from distance, making him a deadly threat from the #10 position. Whilst he’s more of a creative dynamo, his shooting technique certainly makes him an important factor for his team, having registered 4 goals and 1 assist in 25 league appearances this season.



He has thrived as the most advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, relishing the positional freedom and fluidity to roam around the edge of the box and half-spaces and fashion out a chance. However, one area for improvement is his physicality: he has a rather slight build, and his 5’8″ frame severely limits him in aerial duels. He either needs to become a more aggressive player or bulk up in terms of muscle mass — truth be told, he needs to do both in order to make the step up to a major league.


Baturina received his first call-up for the senior national team in November, coming on for the final minutes of their 2-0 win at Latvia and their 1-0 win against Armenia in Euro qualifying, although he missed out on the March internationals due to muscle stiffness. Whilst he faces daunting competition from the likes of Lovro Majer, Luka Ivanušec and Mario Pašalić, Baturina could very well be challenging for a spot in Zlatko Dalić’s Euro squad for the upcoming tournament in Germany.


It could very well be the final international tournament for Luka Modrić, with the Ballon d’Or winner finding playing time increasingly hard to come by at Real Madrid. As he approaches 39 years of age, the search for a replacement is well underway, but there’s reason to believe that Baturina could very well be the long-term heir to his throne.


Capable of roaming forward from the #8 position, receiving the ball under pressure, maneuvering his way out of congested spaces and linking midfield with attack, Baturina has established himself as a lethal playmaker for a Dinamo side that will face off against Rijeka in the two-legged Croatian Football Cup Final next month, and he could very well be the man who’s tasked with filling Modrić’s lofty shoes for the Vatreni.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Pixsell / MB Media / Getty Images