Many Croats would argue that whilst consistent title challenges and European representatives Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split may be excused entering the market for foriegn players, it is detremental for arguably Croatia's third club HNK Rijeka to be overloading with misfiring foriegners. Rijeka had experienced some success with the recruitment of Serbian keeper Dragan Zilic, Bulgarian hotshot Georgi Ivanov, Montenegrin Radomir Dalovic and former German international Fredi Bobic. However recent free transfer buys have proved far less useful. Apart from Ramon Fernandez who has been outstanding, Rijeka's decision to buy midfielder Jonathan Germano, Slovenian playmaker Nastja Ceh and Bosnian midfielder Miroslav Karoglan this season has brought no success of any kind, whilst Johann Smith appears the worst purchase of all with fans continuing to praise his speed but not his footballing ability. It would appear Ceh and Karoglan are way short of match fitness having seen little action following their release from Khimki and Zilina respectively.
Nastja Ceh himself can go down as a potential Balkan star who seemed to lose his way in the game. In 2004/ 05 season Ceh had been the star attraction in the Belgian league firing 11 goals in 28 games and assisting 5 times. However Ceh chose the rather bizarre route of joining Austrian Vienna rather than move to a stronger league and despite assisting 15 times in 2005/06 it was all downhill from that period. Switches to relegation threatened Khimki and Panesekeros failed to boost the player who lost his place in the Slovenian national team and arrived in HNL1 in the Autumn.
Ceh has the talent to help Rijeka, but with no goals and already 1 red card in just 3 starts in 7 appearences it has been a disappointing opening to his HNL1 career. Ceh and Karoglan may experience their revivals when they eventually return to Slovenia or Bosnia. However it appears Rijeka would be best served recruiting younger Croatian players from stronger clubs that can be rejuvenated or young players of their own. This has been the policy of Slaven Belupo, Cibalia and Sibenik who all seem to have took advantage of Rijeka's poor recruitment policy.
Rijeka continues to be a platform from which Croatian players can either transfer abroad or relaunch their career as shown from the sales of Luka Vucko, Davor Vugrinec, Anas Sharbini, Igor Novakovic and Mikael Mikic. With Dario Jertec, Ivan Rodic, Ante Tomic, Filip Marcic, Marin Tomasov, Goran Ljubojevic and Marko Maric all desperate for this kind of rebirth, Rijeka have more than just a few possible options available to them. Croatia certainly needs a prosperous Rijeka and hopefully the management will make the right moves during this winter break.