Friday, 30 August 2013


RNK Split appear to be finding their form with their second straight win on Friday night over Hrvatski Dragovoljac.  All appears well after Ante Rebic's move to Fiorentina secured the club financially for the year. Whilst Stanko Mrsic, would have liked to see Rebic in a Red Shirt for a little longer, the team are now seeing the best of Henri Belle who was played out of position in early season.  Belle is now back alongside Mate Bilic and performed a lot better. Should they wish Split could strengthen in central midfield by signing a player from another club.  However they are currently happy to play safe, moving Denis Glavina to left wing and awaiting the return of key player Ante Vitaic.  Mario Carevic continues to be touted as a possible recruitment in the meantime and will make a decision on his future in the coming week.

HNK Rijeka are also expected to make a decision in the coming week on Leon Benko, the clubs best goalscorer who has an offer from Germany. The club have already agreed a deal with Andrej Kramaric as replacement, but have sold Drazen Pilcic to Luka Koper to reduce the forward line. Daniel Cesarec is expected to be involved when he returns from injury. However Ivan Krstanovic and Josip Tadic's future at the club is dependent on whether Benko stays. Goodness Ajayi is currently performing well when called upon and Matejz Kek could arguably release both Krstanovic and Tadic to find new clubs.

Hajduk Split showed they have every intention of keeping with young players this season, by allowing Mirko Oremus to join Bnei Sakhnin and Goran Blazevic to Levski Sofia. The club also rejected Catania's offer for Mario Pasalic, 18 and signed Georgian striker Giorgi Ilirudze and Haris Bukva, 25 to back up the squad. Hajduk are well set up for the season, but are highly dependent on Franko Andriajsevic and striker Anton Maglica staying fit, as have already lost Mijo Caktas and Jack Kouassi to injury. Hajduk's defeat to Osijek however was a set back and possible indication that this year may be a struggle to retain a European spot.

Dinamo Zagreb also have no real problems at present.  The club may still yet sell Alen Halilovic before transfer deadline to make up for the loss of failing to qualify for the Champions League. The Croatia international is not in Dinamo's starting line up as Sammir, Junior Fernandez, El Soudani and Said Husjenovic are all preferred ahead of him. The player must decided whether to remain with Dinamo or make a deal to move to Tottenham Hotspur where he could be loaned out to receive more playing time. Sammir and Fatos Bequiraj are the main beneficiaries of the coaching change, but Zvonko Pamic and Ante Rukavina may see less playing time, but are expected to stay in contention. Istra 1961 have released 5 players in the last two weeks and may enquire with Dinamo about loaning Pamic who has fallen behind Arijan Ademi, Marcelo Brozovic, Jerko Leko and Bakary Sare in central midfield. Pamic is the son of Istra coach Igor who both suffered the family loss of former Standard Liege and Rijeka midfielder Alen Pamic (Zvonko's elder bother) who died aged 23 this summer. A return to Pula may benefit father and son.

At the lower end of the table Slaven Belupo took the opportunity to kickstart their season with victory over Zadar. Ivan Katalinic added Dominik Glavina to his midfield in the week, but are still in need of a goalscoring centre forward as are heavily reliant on Enes Novicic. Ahmad Sharbini, Andrej Keric, Josip Tadic, Ivan Krstanovic are all available and capable of improving Belupo's attack, but whilst the club won't take a gamble they could be in for a hard season. Zadar themselves may consider dipping in for new players as wins for Osijek and Belupo have pulled them back towards the relegation places. Departures of quality forwards like Ivan Santini and Stipe Perica have left them a little short in that area.

HNK Cibalia are yet to agree a move for former Croatia international Ivan Bosnjak, 34. However they have completed the signing of Andrea Ottochian from Istra 1961. The team looks good to fight NK Zagreb and Inter Zapresic for promotion who have already stated their intentions of a swift return to HNL1. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Whilst RNK Split issues seem at an end following Ante Rebic's transfer to Fiorentina, attention has now fallen on HNK Rijeka and Dinamo Zagreb who are attempting to resolve team harmony by offloading unhappy players within their over capacitated dressing rooms.  During Zoran Mamic's tenure as deputy coach Montenegrin Fatos Bequiraj and playmaker Sammir have returned to the starting line up. Marcelo Brozovic has also done his case no harm, with Zvonko Pamic and Ante Rukavina dropping down to the bench. However Andrej Kramaric has been the main player to suffer and looks set to transfer.

HNK Rijeka are interested in Kramaric, but all depends on whether key striker Leon Benko stays or transfers abroad to Germany.  The unnamed club must produce one million Euro's for the teams most important player.  Ivan Krstanovic is also believed to be unhappy with his lack of opportunities at Rijeka and along with Josip Tadic could be made available for transfer.  With little time remaining it will be hard for both players to find a new club as are both under contract. The top HNL1 clubs are all well set up in the striking department with Lokomotiva (Lendric, Situm, Misic, Peko) and RNK Split (Bilic, Belle, Roce, Vojinovic) unlikely to make any kind of move.

Istra 1961 are also satisfied with Jo, Srdjan Radonjic, Ivan Milicevic and Sandi Krizman, so both Krstanovic or Tadic may have to look abroad or to Slaven Belupo. Belupo are in need of a centre forward of such calibre, but have so far shown no urgency. Whilst Matteo Roskam has impressed in Bosnia with Sikori Briceg, he has not taken to life in Croatia's top flight leaving Ivan Katilinic over-reliant on Enes Novicic.

Saturday, 24 August 2013


With transfer deadline approaching in just a week, all eyes in Croatia have been on RNK Split striker Ante Rebic and his likely destination.  The 20 year old was once again called in Croatia's national team squad to face Serbia, ahead of in form Atalanta striker Marko Livaja.  Roma, Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City and Middlesborough all have interest in him.  Roma especially have the finances to make a move having sold Italian international Oswaldo, but it appears Fiorentina are set to sign Rebic as replacement for Stevan Jovetic who transferred to Manchester City. Split are ably acquitted in the forward line with Mate Bilic in form and Goran Roce, Aljosa Vojinovic and Henri Belle as support. Rebic's transfer gives them strength to address the inbalance in their midfield. Mario Carevic and NK Zagreb playmaker Besart Abdurahimi may both interest them.

Split are keen to find consistency to stay in touch with the leading pack. Lokomotiva Zagreb's latest win against Zadar is of concern to Split who are falling behind Tomislav Ivkovic's men in the race for European places.  Dinamo, Hajduk and Rijeka having already stated their intentions to challenge for the title from the onset and Rijeka's victory against Stuggart especially shows their strength with Leon Benko, Ivan Tomecak, Nikola Pokrivac and Zoran Krzvic making excellant starts to the season. The club have however attempted to trim their squad selling Drazen Pilcic to Slovenian club NK Koper and have allowed Ivan Krstanovic to leave after only a month. Matejz Kek has Daniel Cesarec to return, whilst Goran Mujanovic and Goodness Ajayi have made the biggest impression as support forwards. The club have no intention to sell their leading striker Benko for less than 1 million Euro's which seems unlikely at age 30 and have taken alternative measures to trim their forward line. Should Benko move before the transfer deadline, Rijeka intend to raid Dinamo for Andrej Kramaric, who has fallen out of favor.

Dinamo have changed their coach, parting with Krunoslav Jurcic in a desperate attempt to make the Champions League, however they still have a strong squad.  Dinamo now look set to keep Montenegrin international Fatos Beciraj after the player was brought back into the fold by Zoran Mamic and took little time to impress alongside Duje Cop and Junior Fernandes.  Hajduk are already out of Europe but are ticking along comfortably in the domestic league with their young players improving by the game.

Further down the table Osijek are still searching for much needed funds and reliant on former players to help the club. Midfielder Karlo Lulic has been a strong point in the early part of the season, whilst the club finally gain the papers from Naft Tehran for Goran Ljubojevic to strengthen their attack alongside Josip Barisic. The most mystifying club in early season has been Slaven Belupo who are rock bottom with two points and still find goals hard to come by. Its yet to be seen how long the club remains patient with coach Ivan Katilinic, who has been critical of his players pointing out poor form that began midway through last season. Goalscoring appears the weakest element however which has not been addressed. Despite a wholesale clear out which has seen Tomislav Busic (Solin), Davor Vugrinec, Mario Jelavic (Bochum) and Martin Saban (Pomorac) all leave, Matteo Roskam and Dzenan Haracic have not impressed so far as replacements. Belupo clearly need to do something and may look to Rijeka where Ivan Krstanovic, Josip Tadic and former player Ahmad Sharbini are all available.

Istra 1961 have not been as shy in adjusting their squad parting with four players in the last week and loaning Dinamo Zagreb's Mario Baric and Pomorac's Armando Mance. Igor Pamic will be especially pleased with a number of summer signings such as Srdjan Radonjic, Jo, Woon and Ivan Milicevic. 

Monday, 19 August 2013


Croatia internationals Ante Rebic and Alen Halilovic look the most likely to make their moves out of the Croatian league with transfer deadline looming.  RNK Split would be happy to part with Rebic, whilst the player is under contract and ably supported in that area Mate Bilic, Henri Belle, Josip Mrsic, Goran Roce, Ivica Baraban and Aljosa Vojinovic.

Rebic, scored 10 times for Split last season and although he started the season slowly due to injury he is now finding his form and scored his debut goal for Croatia in midweek.  Rebic is targetted by Swansea City, Parma and Spurs, but Fiorentina look set to make Split an offer of around 3million Euros.  Split would be sensible to take such an offer with Krunoslav Lovrek's collapsed move to Deportivo due to injury and Sibenik's haggling over Ermin Zec a prime example of what can go wrong.

Rebic's transfer would secure the club who already have enough replacements especially proven striker Mate Bilic and would allow them to go out a recruit a central midfielder after losing key playmaker Ante Vitaic to long term injury. Meanwhile Halilovic, of Dinamo Zagreb is the subject of transfer negotiations with Tottenham Hotspur, who themselves are discussing Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid.

Dinamo it is believed are happy with the fee and the player is currently struggling for first team football under Krunoslav Jurcic who prefers Said Husljinovic and Algerian forward Soudani ahead of him.  With Sammir likely to return back to the first team, Halilovic is likely to move on the English Premiership to fulfill his potential and could be loaned out such as Stipe Perica, who will play with NAC Breda this season borrowed from Chelsea.

There appears unlikely to be few big transfers out of Croatia in the next few weeks.  Arjan Ademi and Duje Cop are playing the best football of their careers, but are both settled at Dinamo.  The club do however need to settle the status of striker Fatos Bequiraj who did not come cheap to Dinamo from Buducnost Podgorica, but has fallen out of favor.  Loaning Junior Fernandes from Bayer Levekusen has not done much good for Bequiraj and Dinamo similarly are unlikely to buy the Chilean international who is beginning to find form. It all spells money lost the Montenegro striker who was the leagues leading scorer two seasons ago.  A one million Euros bid from PSV Eindhoven is unlikely to impress Dinamo who should be selling this asset at a higher price.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


After following his younger brother Anas to Saudi Arabia, elder brother Ahmad Sharbini is keen to return back to Croatia with the in form Rijeka forward.  Sharbini's hope of signing with Rijeka looks unlikely as Matejz Kek's side have more than enough strikers and are already struggling to find a place for Ivan Krstanovic, Danijel Cesarec, Josip Tadic and Drazen Plicic in their line up.  Ahmad netted three times in Saudi Arabia with Al Wahda, but has been suffering a hang over from spending long periods on the bench at Hajduk Split.  Ahmad needs a run of games.  Slaven Belupo could prove a suitable fit as are the one side in need of a striker, although the player may also interest Dragovoljac.

At 32 years of age and out of sequence since leaving Al Faisaly, Asim Sehic may be suited to a deal with a Croatian second division side to find his form.  However with numerous teams chasing promotion in a new and improved second tier, Sehic could give the edge many such teams need.  Sehic, is best known from his time with Istra Pula 1961 and a return to his former club may not be out the question.  Whilst Sandi Krizman. Srdjan Radonjic and Ivan Milicevic have started well Brazilian Jo and Mario Sacer still have a point to prove. Sehic is more likely to drop to the lower division however.

Once tipped for greatness and with talent in the style of Aljosa Asanovic, Carevic has disappointed to reach the heights expected of him and at 31 years of age finds himself a free agent.  Some good form in Belgium with Lokeron and Kortrijk will not have impressed many in Croatia where he was expected to be one of the leading players in the national team with Niko Kranjcar.  Although Carevic has interest from OV Leuven it may be a time to return home, with RNK Split desperately in need of a midfielder with his creativity.
UPDATE: Carevic could sign for RNK Split following Ante Rebic's transfer to Fiorentina.

Off the field problems has overtaken the career of Dino Drpic who is once again a free agent and searching for a employer.  After playing in Singapore, having been released by Rijeka some even doubt whether the 31 year old former Dinamo Zagreb skipper will even make a come back.  HNL2 could be an option, with DPMM teammate Ivan Bosnjak.  Once they made the sale of Mislav Orsic, Zapresic may be in position to make a deal for such players at Drpic. Since leaving the Maksimir Stadium, Drpic impressed in the Bundesliga with Karlsruher for half a season, but its been downhill since then in AEK Athens, Volyn of Ukraine and with Rijeka who were almost relegated before their revolution began.
UPDATE: Ivan Bosnjak set to sign a one year contract with former club Cibalia in HNL2

Following the impressive sale of Stipe Perica to FC Chelsea, NK Zadar have room for one more striker to add to in form Josip Ivancic and the evergreen Zelimir Terkes.  Dragan Blatnjak, their former player who has enjoyed a strong career in Russia with Rostov and Khimki could be readied for a return to his former club, especially due to his association with agent Rene Sivoncic.  Blatnjak played last season with NK Osijek, but failed to score and will need a run of games, but can also play in midfield.

Rubil's promising spell at Hajduk Split led him to a move to the Greek club Asteras Tripolis.  However the defender, who can also play central midfield was seriously injured there and was released last season.  Rubil may attract teams in HNL2, but at 32 is coming to the latter part of his career.  Rubil began his career at Nantes and was a promising Croatian Under 21 international, but his spells abroad in France, Japan and home in Croatia with Rijeka have been a struggle.  Rubil has not really had a run of games at the clubs he's played for.

Along with Mario Carevic, Zdravko Popovic is probably the most attractive free agent available for Croatian clubs and it is still very possible he can gain a contract abroad.  Still only 30, Popovic is a player who can provide goals, often of the spectacular nature and would boost most of the teams in HNL1.  Slaven Belupo is essentially in need of a player like this.  Ivan Katalinic is currently plodding on with the same strikers in hope of a turn in fortunes, but Popovic and possibly Ahmad Sharbini are the only two proven Croatian strikers out there that can give them the lift which Leon Benko provided when they signed him two seasons ago.  A return to Greece or Cyprus is also possible for Popovic who scored six times last season for Simurq and has 21 goals from his time in Greek football.  Popovic also scored 51 times in 62 games for Croatia Sesvete last time he was in his home country.
UPDATE: Popovic signs with reformed Greek giants AEK Athens in Greek Third Division.

At 38, it appears there is no longer interest in HNL1 all time leading scorer Davor Vugrinec.  There has been talk of a return to the newly reformed NK Varazdin, alongside former midfield teammate Miljenko Mumlek. Nevan Vukman, Ivan Rezic and Gordon Vuk have all accepted offers to return the club formerly known as Varteks. Vugrinec could also find a place in the improved Croatian second division with clubs such as Inter Zapresic and former side NK Zagreb still in need of goalscorers.

Former Varazdin striker Filip Skvorc is not counted on by Lokomotiva Zagreb this season and may be suited to dropping down to the Croatian second Division with Inter Zapresic a possible suitor for his services.  Alongside Ivan Peko, he is need of regular first team football as Lokomotiva are looking elsewhere with Mario Situm, versatile Petar Misic, Ivan Lendric and Ante Budimir their preferred strikers for this season.

33 Year old former Croatia international striker once again finds himself a free agent after suffering injury and health problems last season at Mainz where he scored 1 goal managing just three appearences. Klasnic's best spell in his career came during his time with Werder Bremen where he was considered one of the most deadly strikers in Germany. However after two kidney transplants, Klasnic had to reinvent himself as a penalty box finisher. He signed for Nantes, before showing better form in the English Premiership with Bolton Wanderers. Klasnic's spell in Mainz may turn off a number of top clubs, however he could give the edge to a number of ambitious German Bundesliga 2 club such as Koln, 1860 Munich. Klasnic alternatively could pursue a final swansong in the United States with a Croatia recall now looking unlikely.