Dion Drena Beljo: Croatia’s next number 9 by Calum Scullion
Name: Dion Drena Beljo
Place of birth: Zagreb
Height: 195cm (6ft 4)
Club: NK Osijek
Position: Centre Forward
For a country with a small population, Croatia seems to always over-perform and they are now consistently producing high quality players, from Luka Modric to Marcelo Brozovic and future superstar Josko Gvardiol, there is no lack of talent in Croatia at the moment and they are currently producing another very interesting generation of young players, the player I would like to highlight from this up and coming generation of new Croatian talent is Dion Drena Beljo.
Dion Drena Beljo was born in Zagreb on the 1st of March 2002, he started his youth career at HNK Cibalia in 2010 at the age of 8. He stayed at Cibalia until 2019 and then he moved to NK Osijek, initially playing for their second team in which he scored a number of goals.
He then moved to NK Istra on loan for the 21/22 season, he really impressed during his loan spell as he scored 20 goals and had 4 assists in 37 appearances, this breakout season was enough for him to get more game time when he returned to NK Osijek at the start of this season.
So far this season he has 8 goals and 2 assists in all competitions and he is starting to gain a lot of attention from the media and there are rumours of a potential transfer move either in January or the summer of 2023.
As a forward/striker you expect Beljo to have good finishing and he does, but I was surprised with the range of finishes he has shown in the goals he has scored, due to his height you expect him to be a classic target man that scores a lot of headers but he is much more than that, a lot of his goals come from the edge of or just outside the box in which he loves to hit a drilled low shot at the goal.
He also is very good with his back to goal, either from a high ball up to him or a short pass into his feet Beljo does a great job of holding the ball up, keeping possession and using his height and physicality to hold defenders off, then he will usually pass or lay the ball off to a team-mate making a run up the pitch or he will distribute the ball out to one of the wingers. He also uses his decent aerial ability to head the ball towards goal and when he drops deep he flicks the ball on with his head to players that are ahead of him.
This ability to play with his back to the goal and hold up the ball very well also allows him to take pressure off the rest of the team, it gives them time to move up the pitch, make runs and get into creative and potentially goal scoring positions.
Bejlo is also a very actively offensive player, you will mostly find him floating around the halfway area and final third of the pitch looking to get involved in the play and always helping his team out by using his link up and good one touch passing skills.
He is one of my favourite young strikers in Europe right now and the only potential drawback in his game I would like to note is that sometimes he is slow when he starts his runs and it can take him a while to get to full speed, once he gets going and into his stride, he has decent pace and his on-ball abilities outweigh this slight weakness so it’s not really something to worry about.
Overall review and career future:
Dion Drena Beljo is definitely one of the best young strikers in Europe outside of the major leagues and in my opinion, he will get a decent move either in the upcoming January transfer window or the summer window after that, many teams want strikers with the same skill-set as him and I think he would be a good asset to most teams in Europe.
He is scoring goals regularly now in the Croatian league and I would like to see him in a league like the Bundesliga as I think it would be a good step up for him and he has been linked to clubs such as Borussia Monchengladbach in the past. I don’t think he is ready for a top European club yet but I think he will take that next step into another league and test himself against top opposition.
Overall, like I said I think he may get a move in January to a bigger league but I wouldn’t be against him staying in Croatia until the end of the season as I think he will have more options if he has a really good full season for Osijek. I really do think Beljo will be a top European striker in a few years and it also would be good to see him start getting picked for the Croatia national team as they are about to enter a transitional phase in which a new generation will need to break through and replace some older players and I hope he is one of those players. It will be interesting to watch his next career move and seeing what the future has in store for him.