Monday, 25 April 2011


NIKO KRANJCAR Aged 26, Kranjcar is at a pivotal point in his career for club and country. The highly skillful playmaker has experienced moderate success during his time with Dinamo Zagreb, Hajduk Split, before impressing at Portsmouth and lately at Tottenham Hotspur. However to reach the level of a top player, Kranjcar needs a place in the first team at a strong club and is looking at his options. Only a player of the year performance by Gareth Bale has prevented Kranjcar from figuring much for Spurs this season. However Kranjcar is likely to attract interest from Aston Villa, Liverpool and others in England, plus Werder Bremen in Germany and also has interest in Italy so a move could be highly possible this summer.

MATE BILIC Although Mate Bilic has been part of the success story of Sporting Gijon in the last 3 years, this season he has been out of the picture. With Gijon yet again likely to retain their top flight status their is little room for Bilic who at 31 needs to move on. Although moves to Hajduk Split and RNK Split have been mooted, it is possible Bilic may sacrifice international football and return to playing in the Segunda Liga where he experienced success with Almeira, Gijon amongst others. Bilic is still contracted and a foriegn club is unlikely to pay compensation with the Croatia forward valued at 1m Euro's so any move is likely to be a loan.

DANIEL PRANJIC Despite being consistently rumoured to be on the exit door of Bayern Munich, the German champions have never been so revolutionary as to cut the squad so drastically. Pranjic is still a useful squad player for Bayern and new coach Jupp Heynckes may be tempted to keep the 29 year old Croatian international, whilst Arjan Robben and Frank Ribery have patchy fitness records. Pranjic has far from flattering interest from Feyenord, but must believe he can recieve a better offer.

MILAN BADELJ Whilst Sammir, Pedro Morales and Ante Rukavina endured quiet second halfs to the Croatian league campaign, Milan Badelj emerged to guide Dinamo to yet another league title victory. Despite a slow start to the season and a far from impressive beginning to his international career with Croatia, there is enough talent in the 22 year old midfielder to be worked upon. Such as in the case of ex Osijek defender Domagoj Vida, Badelj may well be recruited with Bayer Leverkusen a possible option or French club Olympic Lyon who are more than satisfied with how Dejan Lovren progressed after arriving from the Croatian capital.

ANTE VUKUSIC Despite a strong season in Croatia, Vukusic is far from ready for a big club and needs to develop. However the 19 year old needs to consider if staying in Split will help his development whilst the team continues to be under pressure from their fans in the shadow of being runners up to rivals Dinamo Zagreb. Vukusic may be best advised unloading that responsibility to a experienced player like Mate Bilic or Ivan Krstanovic and considering a switch to a Russian, German or Ukrainan club. Vukusic's main asset is his pace and getting into good positions to score. He is still raw talent, but a move to the right club could see him become a highly improved player.

IVAN TOMECAK Whilst Dinamo may look to hold onto Ivan Tomecak, for the player himself he may experience a step to the next level if he gained the right transfer. Tomecak is a more than handy right sided midfielder who is ready for the step up to the Russian league or in the Bundesliga. The Croatia Under 21 player has seen his impact this season reduced by injury, but has come back in time to help Dinamo over the finish line. For Croatia Tomecak is already as good as effective Turkish league based player Drago Gabric and long term could compete with Domagoj Vida and Sime Vrsaljko as reputy to Dario Srna.

IVAN KLASNIC Although Klasnic still has a year left on his Bolton contract, the 31 year old will consider if playing substitute satisfies his expectations. In the past Klasnic was targetted by numerous Bundesliga clubs, but after the improvement in the fortunes of Hanover, Numerburg, Kaiserslautern, Hoffenheim and Mainz, Klasnic may well become a target for a return to Germany at a club willing to give him more first team action. Johan Elmander is yet to acquire a new contract, but manager Owen Coyle is looking for a new number 9 with Daniel Sturridge and Carlos Vela both on his target list.

IVAN KRSTANOVIC After a highly impressive season in HNL1 with NK Zagreb, Bosnian forward Ivan Krstanovic will be hot property in the summer. Hajduk Split had previously balked at the idea of buying the player whilst Ahmad Sharbini was still on the books. However Ahmad is frustrated at how his Hajduk career has gone and Krstanovic would seem a more than worthwhile replacement. Krstanovic is a tall physical forward who could link up well with a more nimble number 9 like Ante Vukusic or Duje Cop. Hajduk also may well be in the hunt for Ivan Santini, although Ivan Lendric may be afforded a chance in the team when he returns from his loan.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Despite numerous options, Croatia find themselves struggling to find a striker to make the number 9 shirt firmly there own. After Nikola Kalinic failed to impress against Georgia, Nikica Jelavic played the friendly with France, but was similarly anonymous. Bilic's has been attempting to build the next generation of strikers, but Croatia still appear in need of Ivica Olic, Eduardo Da Silva and potentially Ivan Klasnic, whilst new arrivals in the squad adjust to international football.

With Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic struggling to hold down regular places at Wolfsburg and Blackburn Rovers respectively, Jelavic who is a Rangers star forward would appear to have a head start. The 25 year old clearly needs time to fit in with Croatia's style of play. If fully fit and scoring it appears Bayern Munich's Olic is still Croatia's star man. Having lost pace Eduardo will compete with Ivan Perisic who impressed against France in support striking roles.

Slaven Bilic currently dismissed Ivan Klasnic for international matches. However Klasnic has been the most effective Croatian forward in the English Premier League, continually putting points on the board for his club with important goals. Whilst Klasnic, who scored twice in Euro 2008 is proven in European and domestic competition Mandzukic and Srdjan Lakic struggled of late. Mandzukic, Lakic and Kalinic will all need better seasons next year to convince Slaven Bilic they should be in the reckoning.

Mate Bilic also may feel hard done by to be dropped, but needs to depart Sporting Gijon in order to pick up regular football, even if back at Hajduk Split. Only a monster season could see him come back into the fold. In reserve Dinamo Zagreb's Ante Rukavina, Ergotelis's Mario Budimir, Sparta Prague's Andrej Keric and Aris Salonika's Daniel Cesarec have been nothing special this season. Sasa Bjelanovic of Atalanta and Igor Budan of Cesana may be in line for HNL1 after goals dried up. Keric and Budimir still have potential but need to do more.

Arminia Bielfeld's Josip Tadic has shown signs of improvement, whilst Hajduk's Ante Vukusic has had a strong season, but still has much to prove at high level football. Whilst Mario Gavranovic chose Switzerland over Croatia, all is not neccessary lost as young Croatian Under 21 player Petar Sliskovic shows signs of potential at Mainz, as does Hoffenheim's Boris Vukcevic.

Monday, 4 April 2011


Zadar slipped into the relegation zone at the weekend, after suffering defeat to Istra 1961. Zadar are now heavily reliant on Ivan Santini after allowing Zelimir Terkes to go to China with Chandong Lifan. Santini would remain the teams prize asset if Zadar were relegated and may be intrigued to do a deal with Hajduk Split, with whom they have been engaging in long running business. Things are looking more rosey with Osijek, after adding Marko Babic and Goran Ljubojevic the team is on the up. President Robert Spehar also is confident of bringing Jurica Vranjes in the summer. Tomislav Sorsa is being watched by Bochum and may be sold to finance a deal.

Slaven Belupo meantime sacked coach Mile Petkovic and replaced him with former player Roy Ferencina who impressed with Lokomotiva Zagreb last season. Ferencina immediately got a reaction at the weekend with a 4-0 win. Leon Benko with 3 goals in 6 matches needs to keep scoring for the team to keep comfortable in midtable. Tomislav Busic, however has disappointed and could be moved on in the summer. Sibenik and Istra keep fighting, but are yet to get themselves out of danger. Sibenik's purchase of HNL3 striker Drazen Jelic has been highly successful, whilst Mehmad Alispahic is key. With Pedro Morales, Sammir, Antun Palic and Mario Situm all on Dinamo's books its uncertain whether Alispahic made the right move in going to the Croatian capital. Palic, particularly has seen little football since moving across from Inter Zapresic.

It appears Zapresic will fight it out with RNK Split and Cibalia for the last Europa Liga spot. Zapresic have turned around their season in remarkable fashion under Ilija Loncarevic and appear to have a future star in Macedonian striker Aleksandr Trajkovski. Cibalia have enjoyed a similar good season with Dino Kresinger and Mladen Bartolovic forming a highly successful strike partnership. Rijeka may stay happy with midtable safety after a turbulant season. Dutch signing Sergio Zijler has yet to really prove himself. Similarly whilst Vedran Gerc may earn a new contract, Rijeka may look to a more experienced forward such as Ahmad Sharbini in the summer, who sees little football at Hajduk.

Hajduk themselves could be looking for a new coach in the summer as results have been stuttering under Goran Vukevic. A new striker to support Ante Vukusic seems vital, with Croatian international Mate Bilic a likely target from Sporting Gijon. Zagreb's Ivan Kristanovic could also be looked at after a strong season at NK Zagreb. Besides Vukusic, Marin Ljubicic has impressed in midfield and Srdjan Andric has performed better when pushed into a playmaker role.