Written by Vedran Ćavara
With the festive season upon us, the January transfer window looms large for many Croatian players. Who is coming? Who is going? And where will several high profile stars land? Here are my predictions below:
Ivan Perišić is among the brightest of the young Croatian National team players, currently plying his trade as a winger at Borussia Dortmund, the German champions. The 23 year-old’s most important goal for Dortmund came against Arsenal at home in the Champions league last year, smashing a left-footed volley from outside the box to equalize and force a draw. The blossoming former Hajduk Split youth product, however, has found playing time rather limited this season.
Through 20 appearances, mostly off the bench, he has managed only three meager goals and one assist during the campaign. Growing frustrated with his role, Perišić voiced his displeasure with manager Jurgen Klopp’s decision to use him in a rather limited capacity. Transfer rumors from a wide variety of German and Polish media outlets have him heading to VFL Wolfsburg during the upcoming January transfer window. However, Russian club Dynamo Moscow have also been reported to want the services of Perišić.
If he makes the move to Wolfsburg, he would be joining compatriot Ivica Olić, who moved in the summer from Bayern Munich. Let’s just hope for Perišić’s sake that he gets the playing time he needs to continue his blossoming career.
Verdict: Perišić to Wolfsburg.
Dejan Lovren has all the intangibles: size, strength and intelligence to become one of the best center backs in Europe. The one thing he lacks however is pace. But that hasn’t deterred world class European clubs from taking a close look at the former Dinamo Zagreb defender. Chelsea’s scouts have been scouring Europe for good defensive cover in light of a mini injury crisis at Stamford Bridge, with club captain John Terry possibly sidelined until the end of the year and David Luiz proving to be a defensive liability.
According to the Metro: “Interim Blues boss Rafa Benitez is desperate to improve his defensive options in the January transfer window, and powerful centre back Lovren is said to be the latest name to be recommended to him by Chelsea’s vast scouting network”.
Lovren is said to cost £6million, relative chump change to a money rich club of Chelsea’s caliber. This would send Lovren to one of the biggest clubs in the world and surely enhance his reputation. However, I don’t see him going anywhere, as he is receiving a regular run in at Lyon and just recently returned from a horrendous injury. Plus, something tells me he’ll want a piece of Zlatan Ibrahimović for stomping on his face.
Everyone knows the story of Eduardo, the best finisher on the Croatian National team since Davor Šuker, some would argue.
He excelled at youth and senior level at Dinamo, was bought by Arsenal where he had a decent season before suffering a horrible leg fracture. He returns the next year after a lengthy layoff, and was never the same player again. Along comes Shakhtar Donetsk who buy Eduardo for a meager £6 million and he warms the bench for the past two years. His tale is a tragic one, never the player he once was, now seeking playing time. At age 29, he doesn’t have many options left. A few months back, Fulham took a flyer on him but never signed him, but with decreased playing time and Fulham mid table in the EPL, I could definitely see Eduardo joining Mladen Petrić at Craven Cottage this January.
Domagoj Vida looks like an unassuming and unimpressive player, but has recently become a steady steward in Croatia’s back line. His versatility and ability to stick his task are his strongest attributes, but he is still a raw 23 years old. Rumors from England have him linked with a move to either Manchester City or Manchester United. My gut tells me he stays at Dinamo, as he is still not a complete product and would only be resigned to reserve duty at this point in his career, were he to move abroad.
At just 16 years old, Alen Halilović is thought to be the second coming of Luka Modrić. Eager to possibly cash in on the next big thing from Croatia, delegates from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United have been watching the young player recently. Dinamo Zagreb, being the cash strapped club that they are, could be holding out for a transfer fee of about 15-20 million euros for the ‘wunderkind’. I could very well see him moving abroad, but could also envision him staying at home to further develop. I’ll give a winter transfer a 50/50 chance.
Yet another Dinamo youngster being watched for his stand out performances at the club, and at only 18, he could very well move abroad. Adopting a sense for building his team stemming from a young core, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been watching Mateo for quite some time and would love to bring him to the Emirates. Question is, would he be willing to pay the 18 million that Dinamo wants? Probably not. So I see Mateo moving somewhere in central Europe. My guess is Bayern Munich.
Happy New Year to all! See you again in 2013!