Sunday, 4 April 2010


Jerko Leko's situation this season has been alarming. With his favorite spot as defensive midfielder wide open to be taken in the Croatian National team, Monaco midfielder Leko has been happy to sit back and watch.... literally. The experienced 29 year old has found himself out of favor with his club who declared their desire to sell him at the end of last season.

Leko however rejected moves to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City who look set to survive in the English Premier League. There has even been talks of Chelsea, Espanjol and Dinamo Moscow. Leko however has shown no real interest to move and has been running down his generous contract at Monaco and waiting for free agent status in the summer, much to the frustration of Slaven Bilic who resultantly dropped him from the squad and was unable to field him in important matches against Ukraine and England due to lack of match practice.

Dario Simic, similarly has not shown any intention to split from his contract at Monaco and played no football this season. At 34 Simic, may have an excuse, but with consideration to Stjepan Tomas's desire to get out the pitch and take a smaller contract in Turkey, Simic has been largely found idle.

The same can be said of Dario Smoje, Stjepan Poljak, Mario Mijatovic and Zvonimir Deranja who spent 6 months in free agent status. Mijatovic was having a half decent season at Lustenau but after his release did not build on it by transferring across to a new club. Dario Smoje also appeared once for Pananios and then not found a new employers. It would appear these players future lie in the Croatian league.

Ivan Bosnjak also failed to make any impression or score a goal despite gaining a decent transfer from Genk to Irakilis. Once again it would appear Bosnjak's future lies in his home country.

Two of the season biggest disappointments have been Marko Babic and Darko Bodul. There is still some affection for Babic amongst Croatian supporters whose games for his national team have arguably been decent. In fact before Slaven Bilic took charge Babic was one of the best performers in the 2006 World Cup side. Babic's decision to leave Germany's Bayer Leverkusen for Spain has however cost him. Spain has been notable for its lack of Eastern and Central European talent over recent years as the country focused more on home grown and Latino talent.

Babic was always in a ominous position at Betis who are renowned for coaching changes and changes of ideas in mid season. As a result Babic was starved of football at Betis and not even a loan spell at Hertha Berlin could revive him. His decision however to transfer to Real Zaragoza was therefore met with hope rather than expectation and Babic has again been on the sidelines. Babic looks set to be remembered as a player that threw away his international career. Arguably as talented and promising as his counterparts Dario Srna, Niko Kranjcar and Jerko Leko, Babic has however taken an unneccessary step backwards. If Babic finds the right club he could encounter a mini revival, but he needs to get back to starting football matches on a regular basis.

Another player who needs to do more is Darko Bodul who has failed to make the most of a season long loan at Sparta Rotterdam. Bodul's lack of goals have left many about his real potential to become high quality player. His parent club Ajax are unlikely to have seen enough to convince them he's worth a place in the squad for next season. Bodul can however take heart from Nikica Jelavic who similarly bombed out during a stint in the Belgian league, only to go on to impress at Rapid Vienna and is now pushing for a place in the Croatia squad.

Whereas Bodul has seen many opportunities, the same can't be said of Mario Brkljaca who has not appeared for midtable Calgiari. Ante Rukavina has also failed to build on his decent first season with Panathanaikos appearing in only a dozen games.