Juve at the Euros: Kostic and Vlahovic

Old Juve casts the spotlight over Serbia’s Euro 2024 campaign, featuring Juve players Filip Kostic and Dusan Vlahovic.
Slovenia v Serbia: Group C - UEFA EURO 2024
Slovenia v Serbia: Group C - UEFA EURO 2024 / Clive Mason/GettyImages

Filip Kostic and Dusan Vlahovic’s Group C campaign with Serbia in their opening game against England in Gelsenkirchen. It would be a short-lived Euros for Kostic, who hobbled off after suffering an external collateral ligament injury. He was replaced by Filip Mladenovic on the 44-minute mark, with Serbia spokesman Milan Vuković confirming on Tuesday after an MRI scan that Kostic will be unavailable for at least two weeks.

The injury comes at an interesting time for Kostic. Kostic is under contract with Juventus until June 2026, but recent reports in the press indicate Kostic isn’t part of new boss Thiago Motta’s plans for next season. La Gazzetta dello Sport have linked Kostic with a move to Turkey, either to Galatasaray or Jose Mourinho’s Fenerbahce. Kostic’s Euros may have been cut short, but with Juventus demanding a fee of at least €10 million to let him leave in the summer, whether or not Kostic plays for the Bianconeri again is unclear.

Kostic’s teammate Dusan Vlahovic featured heavily in the 1-0 loss to England on Sunday. Despite flashes of good play, Vlahovic struggled to link up with fellow forward Aleksandar Mitrovic as Serbia could not find their way through in a somewhat drab game. Vlahovic nearly equalised in the final ten minutes, only to be denied by a sensational fingertip save from Jordan Pickford, as Jude Bellingham’s early goal gave the Three Lions the three points.

Filip Kostic and Dusan Vlahovic have been underwhelming in Euros 2024

Vlahovic then faced off against Slovenia four days later in Munich, with a lackluster performance from both Serbia and Vlahovic. Slovenia were a well-drilled unit, putting Vlahovic under pressure any time he found the ball at his feet, dispossessing or forcing him into errors before he could find the crucial pass to a teammate. When out of possession, Vlahovic was expected (along with Dusan Tadic) to cover the wide positions when out of possession, allowing Slovenia to make gains on the overlap. 

Vlahovic would be subbed off on the 63rd minute, along with a disgruntled Sasa Lukic who messed the Allianz turf in frustration, replaced by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luka Jovic. Minutes later, Slovenia took the lead when Zan Karnicnik ghosted in at the back post to finish off an excellent team move. Serbia’s chances of qualification hung by a thread until substitute Jovic headed home a last-minute equaliser for Serbia to keep them alive going into the third game, back in Munich.

Despite an underwhelming tournament to this point, it was still a surprise to see Vlahovic dropped to the bench for the crunch tie against Denmark. It changed nothing for Serbia, who were sluggish and uninspired in a game indicative of the entire Group C, lacking energy and excitement. As the tie remained goalless, Vlahovic was subbed on after 67 minutes, replacing Ivan Ilic. 

With three strikers (Vlahovic, Mitrovic and Jovic) on the pitch, Serbia cranked up the pressure, knowing that anything but a win would see them eliminated. A lively final ten minutes saw Serbia fail to take advantage of multiple chances and, despite a very late tenuous penalty claim, there would no breakthrough. A 0-0 draw saw Serbia exit the competition, last in a miserable group, the only side not to qualify.

Vlahovic now returns to Turin, with questions to be answered over how sustainable his presence is at Juventus. Thiago Motta has assumed control at the Bianconeri, with one of his first tasks to try and deal with the financial burden of several legacy contracts.

The previous board’s eagerness to throw money in an attempt to restore the club to former glories has seen multiple players, signed for substantial fees, and on expensive salaries. This year has been one of belt tightening and pragmatism for Juventus, with efforts made to try to reduce the excessive wage bill and overall spending. 

Kostic’s injury adds further complications, with the club having hoped to sell Kostic this summer to help fund their new targets. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could see Juventus look at other avenues to replenish the coffers, including Vlahovic. Despite having just finished his best season in Juve colours, the club may struggle to afford Vlahovic’s €12 million a season legacy contract. If a new, lower salary contract cannot be negotiated, the club may be forced to sell the Serb in order to balance the books.

Whilst Vlahovic and Kostic’s campaigns with Serbia may have been underwhelming, we can only speculate on the future of both men at Juventus as negotiations continue. Old Juve will keep you up to date on all the latest involving both men, but in the meantime, look out for more Old Juve articles on the other Juventus players at the Euros in the coming days.