Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Ivan Rakitic's position at Schalke has been a regular topic for discussion during CSR's Croatians Around Europe feature. Only weeks ago Rakitic's stats this season were 1 goal in 7 Bundesliga matches, having made just four starts, during which he was subbed at half time on three occasions. However the last month has better for Rakitic and he reports his relationship with Felix Magath to be improving. Rakitic has undeniable talent and at 21 still has a big career ahead of him. Rakitic has already made 24 appearences for Croatia and scored a respectable seven times. Rakitic has regularly been linked with a move away from Schalke, but it is unlikely we will see Rakitic turning out for the previously mentioned Inter, Juve or Arsenal in the new year. A midtable Serie A club looks very possible though with Palermo and Everton also rumoured to be very keen. Don't count out Rakitic staying with Schalke until at least the end of this season. Possibility: 20%

Although Igor Budan describes his relationship in Palermo as excellant, the forward may be tempted to switch clubs in the winter with many lower level Serie A sides very interested in offering the player regular first team football. Budan has appeared 15 times scoring five goals for Palermo, but has started only four games. It is believed Palermo would now like to step up to the next level to become a competitive top flight side and may be willing to part with their 30 year old striker. Bari wanted the player in the summer, but Livorno are now also believed to be tracking the player. Budan is not under great pressure to transfer in order to secure his national team place, so it is possible the player may stay contented with his bit part role till the summer. Possibility: 20%

Jerko Leko's status within Monaco has been so bad that he may be calling on the help of old friends this winter to achieve a transfer. The 29 year old is no longer trusted by Monaco's Guy Lacombe and has now been dumped from the national team by Slaven Bilic. Having spurned good offers in the summer from English Premiership clubs Stoke City, Wolves and Portsmouth, Leko's hope of a transfer now appears to rest either in Germany, Austria or via a move to the Russian Premier League. However as the player has no serious football since last season his fitness levels may be brought into question. A rumour linking Leko with Chelsea was reported on Eurosport, but it appears this came as a consequence of a recommendation which Chelsea are unlikely to act upon. Possibility: 100%

Jurica Vranjes's status compares to Jerko Leko's in that he is out of the plans of the first team coach of his club. However as Vranjes plays with a much stronger side in Bremen, he is more likely to attract a move. Vranjes in fact was said to be furious that he could not get out of Bremen before the transfer window and heated words with coach Thomas Schaff soon followed. It is likely Vranjes and his agent would have been getting something ready for this winter. Vranjes would prefer to stay in the Bundesliga possibly with former teammate Zvonimir Soldo at Koln. It is also possible however that this could be the new signing of Hajduk Split in the winter. Vranjes is known to be a fan of Hajduk and almost returned to Croatia from Bayer Leverkusen when he was a Croatia international. Possibility: 100%

It is hard to know the plans of Dario Simic at age 34. It appears obvious the player would like to retire at the end of the season and expressed hope of playing the next six months with Dinamo Zagreb. Dinamo appear less enthusiastic however, purely due to the fact they have no idea where to fit him in or any real cause to make the signing. Dinamo appear to be more keen to continue with youngsters Ivan Tomecak and Tomislav Barbaric rather than effect their progress through signing Simic. Dinamo are also carrying another old timer in Robert Kovac on their roster along with Igor Biscan and definite first teamer Dejan Lovren so cannot find room for Simic. Simic himself appears disinterested in a move to any other Croatian club and six months living in Monaco would not be the most galling way to finish his career. If Simic were to transfer a move to a smaller French club or Greece looks the only realistic option for a guy who is really already in retirement. Possibility: 60%

Disaster would be the only way to describe Andrej Keric season so far. This coming only months after becoming the top scorer in the Czech League with Slovan Liberec during the 2008/09 campaign. The 24 year old has bizarrely played 18 games scoring just 2 goals leaving his hopes of stepping up to the next level in tatters. Keric, however is at a small club and it may be that the pressure of being relied to lead the team has took its toll on the player. A move to a better side in Croatia or in another country may be all that is required to get Keric firing again. It is hard to believe that a player who scored 21 in 51 games so recently for Slovan could suddenly have gone cold overnight. Possibility: 20%

It appears that football fans will once again be exposed to the schinanigans of the Drpic's this winter. It is not likely that writing for German newspaper Bild, whilst Dino plays unsuccessfully with midtable second division side Karlsruhre will keep the Drpic's happy for long. This winter its hugely likely Dino Drpic will make a bid to transfer from his club. Most ideal for the player would be if a top flight Bundesliga club took him on. Several clubs including HSV, Hertha Berlin, Bordeaux were linked, but nothing materialised. Drpic transferring to Hertha wouldn't be out the question. It is hardly likely Drpic will be willing to stay in Bundesliga 2 which does little for his hopes of international football. From the perspective of Dinamo looking back it was a great move to shift Drpic off their books. Possibility: 50%

Whether Ante Rukavina transfers or not will depend on the players desire for first team football. Despite being at a big club, Rukavina has yet to convince the coaching staff of his ability to start matches. Rukavina played 25 matches for Pana last season scoring 7 goals, but had just 8 starts. Despite that coach Henk Ten Cate plays just one striker he signed Djibril Cissie rather than turn to Rukavina and it is believed Dmitrios Salpingdis is his second preferred option. For Rukavina it will be interesting to see if he makes a gamble and transfers or plods along with Panathanaikos till the end of the season. So far Croatia fans have not seen enough of Rukavina at Hajduk or Panathanaikos to understand if he will become a potential national team star or not. It would appear the 23 year old needs to drop down to a smaller club in order to move forward in his career. Possibility: 10%

Mladen Bartulovic has been the one beacon of light during a poor season for relegation threatened Ukrainian Premier League side Krivbass. The Croatian international has been on loan from Dnipro for a second time having signed during half of the 2008/09 campaign. Bartulovic's form has been so good in the last few months that he was fielded by Croatia coach Slaven Bilic in the countries most recent friendly with Leichenstien. The wideman has scored a sparkling 8 goals in 17 matches and made 5 assists. Now back at Dnipro he is desperate for a transfer during the winter break to a stronger club. At 23 Bartulovic still has time to realise the potential he showed at Hajduk Split which earned his transfer to Dnipro in 2006. It is not certain why he was allowed to go on loan considering his current form, but it appears best for the player to transfer into another country. It is not expected Bartulovic would return to Croatia. However the player would make a more than worthwhile signing for either Dinamo or Hajduk who could both afford the compensation Dnipro would be asking, believed to be in the region of 1m Euro's. Possibility: 30%

The plight of until very recently Croatia's undisputed first choice keeper has been startling. Capped 79 times, Pletikosa had appeared an unrivaled starter for Spartak Moscow at the beginning of the season after an impressive Euro 2008 for Croatia's national side. A few average games however in Russia and a unsteady showing in Croatia's 4-1 loss to England was all that it took for Pletikosa to find himself out in the cold and went three months without any competitive football. In response Pletikosa attempted a last ditch transfer before the deadline, but suffered ligament damage in training with Spartak scuppering any possible deal being reached. Having missed the rest of 2009, if fit Pletikosa will make another bid to find a new club in January. Spartak Moscow justified their decision to give Soslan Dzhaneyev the gloves as they finished runners up in the Russian Premier League. It is unlikely coach Valeri Karpin will change his mind. Croatia coach Slaven Bilic on the other hand is willing to offer Pletikosa a way back should find a new team in 2010. Possibility: 30%

A winter transfer would be fitting with Nikica Jelavic's astronomical rise. Since Rapid took a gamble on signing the 23 year old striker from Zaregem after scoring just 7 goals during last seasons campaign, Jelavic has never looked back. Jelavic has gone on to nestle the ball 19 times into the back of opponents net between the months of July and December leaving Rapid Vienna with a dilemma. With the players valuation having rocketed since they bought him for a measely couple of hundred thousand, Rapid may consider a sale. Jelavic's form has been so good that his status in the Croatian national team would also have improved even rivalling a revitalised Ivan Klasnic and a tried and trusted Eduardo for a shirt. Possibility: 50%

Having scored his ninth goal of the season in just 14 appearences it would be high time to announce the name of Daniel Cesarec to CSR Reader. Cesarec sits top of the Greek league scoring charts alongside French hotshot Djibril Cisse. Cesarec is already 26 and may be unfamilar to Croats having left the Balkan state way back in 2002 signing with Sparta Prague from Marsonia. The Czech's never saw the best of him despite staying long enough to claim nationality and he moved across to Greece with Akratitos. A strong 2004/05 season with them led to switches to Egaeleo and then to Asteras. In 2009 Cesarec has finally found his best form and could be about to finally step up his career to a higher level. With his contract due to expire in the summer Asteras may be forced to cash in on the striker. It will be interesting to see what 2010 brings for Cesarec who could appear in a Croatia shirt should his form continued in the not too distant future. Possibility: 50%

Dario Srna continues to be linked with every Western European powerhouse going, but once again it remains only speculation as to where or if he will transfer. Srna still seems more than satisfied with his status as captain of Shaktar, which solidifies his position in the Croatian national team in the face of competition from Ivan Rakitic and Drago Gabric. His very high transfer valuation believed to be somewhere in the region of 15m to 18m Euro has also put off numerous big clubs. Chelsea is the latest to be linked as the English Premier League side consider replacements for the currently injured Jose Bosingwa allowing Branislav Ivanovic to be used as a utility defender. Possibility: 20%

The form of Niko Kranjcar for Tottenham gives rise to the possibility that Harry Redknapp may consider a major substantial offer made for Luka Modric. Rumours of Manchester United and Inter Milan moving for the player circulated in the summer and it would seem unlikely Spurs would reject a Champions League club. Redknapp has also been told he need to raise funds if he is to bring in any new player, but would prefer to offload the likes of Alan Hutton, Roman Pavyulchenko, Gareth Bale, Giovanni Dos Santos and David Bentley, before mulling over any transfer of Modric or Jermaine Jenas. Modric's brief for 2010 may be to dislodge Tom Huddlestone from the centre of Spurs midfield in order to break back into side, should Kranjcar continue to shine. Possibility: 10%

After a very successful loan spell in the Czech Republic with Sparta Prague, Manuel Pamic's one year loan deal has now expired. He returns to Red Bull Salzburg where his status as of this moment is unclear. Dinamo Zagreb have already made it clear they admire the player and he was believed to be their primary target in the summer. However Pamic could well have done enough in Sparta to attract a stronger foriegn club or to break into the Red Bull side. It will be interesting to see what happens with Pamic during January. Possibility: 30%