Steven Ugarkovic has been quietly going about his business as the midfield lynchpin in Newcastle Jets’ dynamic side.

While the plaudits have largely and justifiably been handed out to the men playing in front of him, it is Ugarkovic who has also shown to be one of the A-League’s best this season.

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Ugarkovic’s unsung brilliance this season deserves to place him in the discussion as the best central midfielder in the country right now and the statistics tell a similar story.

Going forward his three assists bests the likes of Isaías, Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brillante who are his closest positional comparisons in the league.

His passing accuracy in opponents halves again comes in at the top of the list out of all four of the leading central midfielders at 79.8%, just edging out Sydney FC’s dynamic duo.

Marauding runs that break lines such as the recent assist to Joey Champness’ winning goal in Brisbane have also become an exciting trademark of his game since his return to Australia from Croatia.

Ugarkovic’s attacking potential has been put on show in flashes and Jets’ head coach Ernie Merrick knows that there is still growth to come in the goal-scoring department.

“I’ve always felt that he understates himself, I believe he’s got the ability to be a regular goal scorer – which was truly evident with his terrific effort against the Wanderers,” he said.

“He’s very good defensively, he reads the play well and has a phenomenal work-rate.”

Work-rate is where Ugarkovic really comes into his own because he has simply been everywhere for the Jets.

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The man’s motor is huge, a statement most exemplified by the fact he has only ever missed just two A-league fixtures for the Jets in the past 59 matchdays.

Ugarkovic’s tackling success rate tops out all of his direct rivals in the league at a reputable 76.2%, Brillante comes in next at 63.6%.

The goal-line clearance in the dying embers of round 18 against Melbourne City was another moment that solidified Ugarkovic’s grit as he threw himself into his own net to deny Ross McCormack a certified winning goal in an eventual 2-2 draw.

Fleeting moments such as that goal-line clearance are the intangibles that separate both top sides and top players.

Ugarkovic is a massive part of the renaissance in the Hunter and ranks in the top echelon of midfielders in the league right now.

Arguably he’s been the best if you consider the massive role and workload that is asked of him every matchday.

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There are no doubt hopes of returning to Europe in the future for Ugarkovic and becoming a leading figure of the A-League is a great way to show that he is ready to take the next step in his career.

Ugarkovic is the real deal folks, watch this space.

Feature image:  Sproule Sports Focus

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Josh is in the final stages of a journalism degree at The University of Queensland and is also firmly aboard the Arzani hype-train.