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PROFILE: City new boy looking to rediscover magic of battle with Lewandowski and Mandzukic

PUBLISHED: 13:11 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:35 25 June 2019

Josip Drmic during his Bayer Leverkusen spell Picture: Focus Images

Josip Drmic during his Bayer Leverkusen spell Picture: Focus Images

Archant

He arrives as the man to rival 30-goal star striker Teemu Pukki - and Josip Drmic has certainly proved he has the calibre to perform at the top level.

Norwich City have signed Josip Drmic on a free transfer Graphic: ArchantNorwich City have signed Josip Drmic on a free transfer Graphic: Archant

A World Cup goal-scorer, with plenty of Champions League and Bundesliga experience, Drmic has an impressive CV. However, he arrives in Norfolk looking to begin a career rehabilitation.

Born and raised in Switzerland by Croatian parents, Drmic had to apply for citizenship before he could start representing his nation on the international stage, having joined FC Zurich as a nine-year-old.

Raised in the village of Lachen, on the southern edge of Lake Zurich, he earned 20 international caps at youth level before featuring as a substitute in two games at the London 2012 Olympics.

The Olympics essentially features under-23 squads, with three overage players allowed, and in the starting XIs during the group stages was none other than future Canaries favourite Timm Klose.

Still almost four years away from joining Norwich, Klose was aged 24 and playing for Nuremberg at the time - a club where Drmic would later pitch up.

MORE: Norwich City sign Josip Drmic

Let's take a step back though, to the start of the tall striker's club career, and his first senior involvement as a 19-year-old with Zurich, making four appearances as a substitute during the latter stages of the 2009-10 Swiss Super League season.

Those first steps came thanks to a fine campaign at under-21 level, scoring 13 goals in 23 games as Zurich U21s narrowly missed out on winning the title at that level.

A rather quiet season followed in 2010-11, with Drmic seemingly stuck between U21 and senior level, making seven first team appearances, with two of them in the starting XI.

His breakthrough really began at the start of 2011-12 though, featuring in Champions League qualifying including in a 3-0 aggregate defeat to German giants Bayern Munich.

Eight goals in 28 senior matches - 13 of which were starts - included his first goals, scoring a brace in a cup win against lower level Grenchen in September 2011 and an equaliser in the league at Luzern the following February.

All of which teed up Drmic, as he turned 20, to be a regular player for Zurich heading into 2012-13 - and it turned out to be a rather memorable season.

An impressive 17 goals and eight assists were racked up during 35 matches, according to Transfermarkt.com, as Zurich finished fourth to earn a Europa League qualifying spot and narrowly missed out on a place in the Swiss Cup final, after being beaten by Grasshoppers in extra-time in the semi-finals.

All of a sudden the local lad was outgrowing his boyhood club and interest from across the border in Germany saw Bundesliga side Nuremberg persuaded to fork out for a deal reportedly worth an initial £1.5m.

After signing a four-year contract, Drmic said: "The club has made great efforts to me and absolutely convinced me in the talks.

"There are many Swiss national team players in the Bundesliga and over the last few years, the club has been giving young players a chance to thrive. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Norwich City's new signing Josip Drmic Picture: Norwich City FCNorwich City's new signing Josip Drmic Picture: Norwich City FC

It was in the summer of 2013 that his path would cross with Klose again, only this time it was as the defender was on his way out of Nuremberg to join Wolfsburg. It would prove to be a brief - but very successful - spell in Bavaria for Drmic, individually, at least.

Despite the striker's 17 goals in 33 games his new team finished second from bottom and were relegated to the second tier, with only Bayern Munich and Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic (18) and Borussia Dortmund and Poland star Robert Lewandowski out-scoring Nuremberg's summer signing.

That ensured Drmic would not be playing in Bundesliga II - with Premier League giants Arsenal said to be interested but Bayer Leverkusen swooping to keep him in the German top tier, for a fee reportedly worth around £4m.

Leverkusen's managing director Michael Schade gave the striker a five-year contract and stated: "Josip Drmic has proved his class last year in the Bundesliga - he is one of the outstanding goalscorers in the Bundesliga."

MORE: City fans welcome arrival of Swiss striker Drmic

By that point a 22-year-old Drmic was a fully fledged international and his first Switzerland goals had arrived in March 2014, scoring a brace as he earned his fifth cap, typically in a 2-2 home friendly against Croatia, the homeland of his parents.

That sealed a place in his nation's World Cup squad in Brazil in 2014, starting three of their four games and assisting two of the goals in a 3-0 win over Honduras which sealed a place in the last 16 - only to be edged out 1-0 in extra-time by Argentina thanks to a last-gasp goal from Angel Di Maria.

Back to club action and he wasn't quite able to reach the same levels as with Nuremberg though, with just six goals in 38 games during 2014-15, helping Leverkusen to finish 11th in the Bundesliga and to reach the Champions League knockout stages - where they were edged out on penalties by Atletico Madrid.

Switzerland international Josip Drmic has completed a move to Norwich City Picture: Nick Potts/PASwitzerland international Josip Drmic has completed a move to Norwich City Picture: Nick Potts/PA

It proved to be Drmic's only season at Leverkusen and a switch to Borussia Monchengladbach allowed him to remain in the Bundesliga, signing a four-year contract, the deal which has expired this summer and led to his move to Norwich.

It's at that point where progress really began to slow for the speedy Swiss forward, with two goals in 25 games and some further Champions League experience, before a knee injury in March 2016 ended his season early, having joined Hamburg on loan in January.

That meant missing out on Euro 2016 with Switzerland - who lost to Poland on penalties in the first knockout round - and missing the first half of Gladbach's following campaign.

He did return with four assists from 16 games but no goals as a Europa League exit on away goals to Schalke proved a cruel last-16 knockout - before further harsh luck, as another knee injury followed in April 2017, which would keep him out for another six months.

Four goals in 14 matches during 2017-18 did allow Drmic to earn another World Cup opportunity - coming on and scoring a vital late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica in the group stage and then playing all of a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the last 16.

His injury woes were to return though and an early-season back injury led to him remaining on the fringes at Gladbach during 2018-19, before a late flourish of two goals in five games helped to seal fifth place and a Europa League spot.

With his contract expiring it always seemed likely Drmic would look for a fresh start and Premier League sides Bournemouth and Burnley were both linked.

It's linking up with Switzerland colleague Klose and the coaching skills of German head coach Daniel Farke which has persuaded the forward to come and rival Pukki at City.

He joins a host of Bundesliga players who have enjoyed rejuvenation under Farke's watch at the Canaries, where Mo Leitner and Marco Stiepermann (Dortmund), Tom Trybull (Werder Bremen) and Mario Vrancic (Darmstadt) are among those to have found fitness and stability to kick-start their careers.

Drmic may not be the man to break City's penalty hoodoo though - seeing the decisive spot-kick saved by Jordan Pickford as England beat the Swiss in the Uefa Nations League third-place play-off in Portugal earlier this month.

Yet if he can rediscover some of that 2013-14 magic, his move on a free transfer could well prove to be a bargain.

- You can watch highlights of Drmic's superb 2013-14 season in the video above

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