Sunday, 22 November 2009


MARIO MANDZUKIC Aged 23; Dinamo Zagreb

How good is the word of Dinamo Cheif Executive Zdavko Mamic is what will be asked around Croatian Media during the winter, as Mario Mandzukic is once again likely to attract interest from clubs abroad. Werder Bremen saw good offers in the 8 million Euro region rejected. There were also rumours of interest from Tottenham to take Mandzukic as replacement for unsettled Russian striker Roman Pavyulchenko. The other hot possibility could be Wolfsburg as Edin Dzeko seems destined for a big money transfer in the winter or the summer. So what is all the fuss regarding this 1.86m mobile striker. Mandzukic started his career with Marsonia, before transfering across to NK Zagreb in 2005. A couple of fine seasons under the guise of Miroslav Blazevic saw Dinamo pay around £1m for the player in 2007. That has however been a bargain as Mandzukic improved year after year, scoring 12 in his first season, 16 second time out and so far 8 in total in this campaign. Mandzukic is also not just a penalty box scorer as has provided 22 assists in his first two seasons in HNL1. For Croatia he netted his first goal in the 4-1 defeat to England as a late substitute. He has since been called up to every other squad by Slaven Bilic, who uses him regularly. For Dinamo fans the question remains if Mamic will keep his word that he will not transfer the player till the end of the season.

ERMIN ZEC Aged 21; HNK Sibenik

HNK Sibenik are infamous in Croatia for driving a hard bargain, but stunned everyone when they sent the best of the Bundesliga along with Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo and Hajduk packing when in pursuit of their star striker Ermin Zec during the summer. The reason being for the confidence of this modest Croatian side is that they contracted Zec to a contract that won't run out till 2011. Sibenik believed their Bosnian Under 21 international would justify the £2m price tag they put on him in his second season and he has duely done that, leaving Dinamo particularly in a situation where they may just pay the cash to fend off bigger rivals. If Zec continues his form however he will be an asset to Dinamo and becomes a direct and arguably more polished replacement for the sometimes wayward Mario Mandzukic.Zec is actually only 21 and doesn't turn 22 till June 2010. Since arriving at Sibenik from Iskra Bugojno in 2007, Zec showed his promised with 7 in his first season. He was rewarded with a first team place last year and netted 14 times. This season the goals have continued with 5 in 7 matches. Zec accepted Sibenik's decision to keep him in the summer, but in the winter will be granted his transfer. It is certain Dinamo will want the player and may have the financial muscle to compete with clubs abroad. However it is unlikely Sibenik who give them any favours. From Sibeniks point of view, they are in the healthiest financial position of their life. Having already done deals with Hajduk Split for Ante Rukavina and Ivan Rodic, the Zec transfer money will take the whole stature of the club up another level. The club has now unearthed another star in Arjan Ademi and with a team that is certain to be strengthened this winter it is likely we will see Sibenik in the top half for many years.

DARIO JERTEC Aged 24, Hajduk Split

Dario Jertec will hope for a resolution to his wayward career thus far during the winter. The 24 year old is likely to be on Hajduk's unwanted list and will be doing everything possible to shift out the player. A return to Varteks Varazdin was mentioned, but they have since revealed that the club are unable to pay their staff wages and are in a poor financial predicament. Jertec also enjoyed a successful loan spell in 2007 at HNK Rijeka and so a return back to the club coached by Zoran Vulic could be highly possible.Any lower level transfer will depend on Jertec and Hajduk agreeing to sever his contract that runs till 2012. Jertec has been with Hajduk since they signed him last season on a free transfer from Dinamo. However the player played only 15 times and upon refusing to reduce his wage was sent to the reserves in July. Hajduk see no potential in making something of the player as Mirko Oremus, Mario Ticinovic, Seinjad Ibricic, Florin Cernat and Anas Sharbini all blocked his access into the first team.

IVAN RODIC Aged 23, Hajduk Split

Ivan Rodic's time with Hajduk has not been the happiest for the player since he arrived in the summer from HNK Sibenik. With his agent and the club far from on speaking terms Rodic has decided the best thing for all concerned would be to transfer. With Rodic only having scored 9 goals in 27 matches during his very first top level experience at Sibenik, Hajduk perhaps should have waited a little longer to see if this mobile forward met their expectation level. Rodic has fallen way down the pecking order at Hajduk and joins Hajduk's Split grow list of out of favour players.For Rodic, at 23 leaving Hajduk is far from the end of the world. Besides this is his best pay packet to date Rodic still potentially can turn around his career. Should Bojan Vrucina transfer from Slaven Belupo a forward of Rodic's quality would be high on their priority list. Once again HNK Rijeka could come courting with Sibenik also perhaps considering a cheeky punt on signing their ex player back.

SENIJAD IBRICIC Aged 24, Hajduk Split

It seems impossible to believe Senijad Ibricic could stay with Hajduk Split into next year. In contrast to Nikola Kalinic and Drago Gabric, Ibricic arguably has the biggest case for signing with a strong foreign based club. The 24 year old is on the brink of the becoming a first team regular for the Bosnia Herzegovina national side having already been capped 18 times scoring 3 goals and is now into his fourth high quality season in the Croatian First Division. Fortunately for Hajduk this is one player who will not hold them to ransom as he is contracted to 2012 and has left his football do his talking. Ibricic's transfer will most likely happen naturally and interest from German and England will lead to the player, playing in a level that he deserves.Ibricic was hot property ever since scoring 12 goals in 31 games in 2007/ 08 season for NK Zagreb. A big money transfer to Hajduk Split followed and Ibricic has not disappointed. Last season he fired 12 in 30 games and at times provided rare moments of light in Hajduk's poor start to this campaign. Ibricic's transfer is expected to compensate for money being flittered away on high player wage costs and transfer fees as Hajduk attempt to rebuild, whilst remaining financially secure. Ibricic is now a slight luxury to Hajduk whoever already have plenty of players to cover his position and would more than likely grant him permission to move up his career to better things. Out of all the promising young Balkan talents this could be the next big star to shine in a big league.


If Hajduk Split move for midfield destroyer Marin Ljubicic they may be willing to take the player through the back door. The 21 year old had been a Hajduk Split player who advanced through their youth team to make 20 appearences in the 2007/08 season. Rather than being loaned out, Hajduk allowed the player to join Zadar on a free transfer and he has since been impressive. Ljubicic played 24 times and scored 4 goals last season. His strong start to the new season has attracted Dinamo Zagreb who may move for the player if they sell Ivica Vrdoljak and advances for Jerko Leko do not materialise. Ljubicic is seen as one the best midfielders in the division and should be available for a decent fee.

MIROSLAV SLEPICKA Aged 27, Dinamo Zagreb

Is it the end of the road for Miroslav Slepicka 12 months on from his arrival in Croatia from Sparta Prague. Slepicka was signed in to replace the outgoing Bosko Balaban and Tomislav Sokota, but has struggled to command a first team place. Despite scoring 8 goals in 15 league games for Dinamo, Slepicka's figures are made somewhat deceptive by the fact he scored in only four of those matches, two of them hatricks. His history in the Czech Republic would also suggest he is not a natural goalscorer, more a withdrawn striker with good technical ability. Slepicka's international coach is hardly likely to be impressed by the forward's lack of playing time this year and Slepicka may therefore decide its time to move on. Slepicka still has the stats to attract a Bundesliga 2 club or side in Austria or Russia, but Dinamo will have to take a loss on the player they paid over £1m for. If Slepicka continues with Dinamo and offer him more minutes, then they will consider loaning out Andrej Kramaric.

IVICA VRDOLJAK Aged 26; Dinamo Zagreb

At age 26 Ivica Vrdoljak has reached a key stage in his career. The player either will remain a central member of Dinamo's team long term as the club appears to match his level or he will transfer abroad in hope of becoming a Croatian international one day in the near future. If Dinamo need to sell to keep the finances in a continually healthy state it is more likely they'd sell Vrdoljak in order to delay Mandzukic's transfer. Both Cologne and Red Bull Salzburg showed an interest in Vrdoljak in the summer. He has since put in some half decent displays in Europe and been consistently strong in HNL1. Zdavko Mamic was even considering letting the player go in the summer, but decided Adrian Callelo and Matias Chago were not sufficent to take his place. The question of his transfer will most likely raise its head once again a bid possible from Turkey, Germany, France or Austria.

JURICA VRANJES Aged 29; Werder Bremen
Vranjes may seem a surprising player to appear with respect to HNL1. However Dinamo and Hajduk Split are infamous for rescuing one Croatian star from abroad every season. Vranjes has been linked with a return to the Croatian league once before whilst with Bayer Leverkusen, but a loan transfer to Hajduk failed to materialise. It is not out the question for Hajduk to make this transfer this time. The logic behind it would be to replace Josip Skoko who has already stated his intention to leave Europe in the summer and return home to Australia. In truth Vranjes is far from old legs looking for more playing packet. Vranjes has spent so much time warming benches in his career that he admittedly that he snapped early in the season when he attacked teammate Said Husejinovic. Vranjes is clearly a player who needs returning to the field of play for his own good and may be capable of a revival. Vranjes was tipped for great by Mirko Jozic when he called him the 2002 World Cup squad and has been capped 26 times for Croatia. Despite tenures with big clubs like Leverkusen, Stuggart and Bremen he was unable to become a regular and couldn't dislodge Croatia's Niko Kovac from the national side. If not for Vranjes, Hajduk's may alternatively move for Dinamo Kiev defender Goran Sablic to replace the aging legs of Hjorve Vejic.

STJEPAN POLJAK Age 26, Eskiserispor

Should Stjepan Poljak enter the market then it could create one of the biggest scraps for a players signature. The 26 year old remains hot property in Croatia after a excellant 2007/ 08 season with Slaven Belupo. Despite playing 29 times last season for Eskiserspor, the Turkish club attempted to release the player during the summer. Poljak however stuck to his guns and has since made an appearence back in the first team. The player himself may decide things aren't working out due to lack of playing time and a return home may be best for all parties. Poljak's signature will be of interest to most of the teams in Croatia excluding Dinamo and Hajduk. A deal with Slaven Belupo will most likely only occur in the summer as their midfield is currently over occupied.

MARIN TOMASOV Aged 22, Hajduk Split

A year ago things couldn't have been better for Marin Tomasov. Having played excellant football in the Croatian Under 21's he transfered from NK Zadar to Hajduk Split. Ante Mise took an immediately liking to him and employed him 15 times scoring 1 goal last season. At the start this season Mise hoped to bring the player forward in his progress, but a poor standard to the campaign appears to have destabilised the player and he now finds himself out of favour. With Anas Sharbini patrolling the left wing it seems unlikely Tomasov can get his place back. Mario Ticinovic also seems to have jumped ahead of him for a place on the bench. It'd be highly doubtful Hajduk will terminate the contract of the player or sell him cheaply to another HNL1 club. However a loan move this winter may be the best thing for Tomasov to rebuild his confidence. Having released Marin Ljubicic, Hajduk wouldn't want to be bitten twice so will still hope Tomasov can find his form.

FILIP MARCIC Aged 24, Free Agent

After breaking his contract with Danish Club Mitylland, Filip Marcic will be hugely sought after back in his native Croatia. Marcic began his career as a trainee with Hajduk Split, before moving across to Bordeaux. However having failed to make the grade there he returned to Hajduk, but was once again farmed out to HNK Rijeka. One season here proved far more successful and a transfer to Denmark followed. Injuries has restricted him to just seven appearences in two seasons, leaving Marcic disatisfied. Marcic is the type of player which many HNL1 coaches have been sounding out in recent months and a transfer to a Croatian club could be hugely possible.