When Luton Town broke their transfer record to sign HNK Rijeka goalkeeper Simon Sluga ahead of their first campaign back in the Championship for over a decade, there was immediate pressure for the Croatian to deliver.
However, several errors in his first few games in a Luton shirt raised a few questions about the club’s big money summer signing. Possessing all the technical attributes desired in a modern day goalkeeper, it was clear that his poor start for the Hatters was entirely confidence-based.
Not only was Sluga adapting to a new football club, he was adapting to life in a foreign country where he spoke little of the language. Second-choice goalkeeper James Shea was given a run in the team after Sluga’s struggles, but midway through last season, Sluga cemented his place in the starting lineup and has been improving ever since.
His form directly coincided with Luton’s great escape last campaign and he made several vital saves that could have changed the whole complex of Luton’s eventual survival.
The Croatian has appeared to have gone from strength to strength this season, and despite missing out on seven games because of injury, he has kept nine clean sheets last season, surpassing last year’s total of six.
Even through the toughest of times, his ability has been there for all to see.
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His athleticism and reactions make him one of the best shot-stoppers in the division and his speed of his line has helped his defence on several occasions.
The main difference this season has been his kicking.
Last year, he got his teammates into a lot of trouble with risky passes and kicking that did not pass the halfway line. However, that has certainly been addressed by the club and he is now picking the right moments to play out from the back.
Now, Sluga is in the form of his Luton career and has certainly justified the £1.3 million price tag the Hatters paid in July 2019.
The 28-year-old has also been called up to the Croatian side for his country’s upcoming World Cup Qualifiers and with three games in six days, he may just feature for his national side.
Sluga will be hopeful of ending the 2020/21 campaign by reaching double figures in clean sheets as he continues to put last season’s woes behind him with scintillating performances in a Luton shirt.