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Winter Transfer Window: Which Croatians Should Move?

December 26, 2019

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Written By Nikola “Vuki” Vukmanić

 

 

The January transfer window is drawing ever closer. With that, the rumors have really started to swirl. This January window, however, could end up being a bit more active than we might be used to for Croatian players. Here are a few players that I think could be on the move this winter:

 

 

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Ivan Rakitić – It has been a weird season so far for Ivan Rakitić. Barcelona brought in a top talent in Frenkie de Jong, but it still seemed like Rakitić had a future at the club. The season began and Rakitić was riding the bench until he eventually went public with his frustrations at his lack of playing time. Then, all of a sudden, manager Ernesto Valverde began giving Rakitić starts; much to the chagrin of Barcelona ‘fans’ on social media. Even after he put in a good performance, the large majority of comments online about him were negative. In my personal opinion, it is time for him to move on. No point in playing for a club where you are not wanted. He’s been linked with a return to Sevilla and with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Manchester United. At this stage in his career, it would probably be best if he goes to a team that either lets him play in a more attacking role or in a deep lying playmaker role with young legs next to him so he doesn’t have to work so hard defensively. Maybe Inter Milan as they have been fond of Croatian players in recent years and have younger midfielders like Marcelo Brozović and Nicolo Barella.

 

 

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Ante Rebić – On paper, a move to AC Milan did not look like a bad move for Ante Rebić. Yes, he was a bit of a dud for Fiorentina, but he finally started to develop at Eintracht Frankfurt under Niko Kovač and looked like that hard-working type of player who could fit into basically any team. Rebić was linked with Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Sevilla, and Inter Milan after his solid performances at the 2018 World Cup, but eventually moved to AC Milan on deadline day this summer. I, like many others, were excited to see what he could do for a bigger club, but since joining, hasn’t really gotten the chance to settle into his new club. He has only started once and that was due to a teammate being picking up a knock before he got injured himself early on in the game and had to be substituted after half time. It is true that he has not really done much when he does play, but it doesn’t seem like Milan even knew what they were buying with Rebić. He’s not a clinical striker who is going to score loads of goals. He is a pressing forward who makes the defense uncomfortable and can create chances simply by working hard. I’ve seen articles saying his loan deal is going to get cancelled and that may just be the best move for him. Let him go back to Frankfurt and be their star player and then next summer either stick around and keep improving or try to find a club that is committed to playing him regularly.

 

 

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Filip Benković – Filip Benković is another player who is currently not playing at his club. Benković arrived at Leicester City last summer before going on a pretty successful loan spell at Celtic. Leicester City then sold Harry Maguire to Manchester United and it looked like Benković would have a chance to fight for a starting spot. However, an injury put a stop to that and Caglar Soyuncu, the other young center-back that Leicester bought last season, is now growing into a solid player and starts every week. Not only has Benković not played, I don’t think he has even been on the bench for a Premier League game yet with that spot going to captain Wes Morgan. Benković has been rumored to be going back on loan to Celtic. While that could be a good move, I think maybe he should look to move to a team in the Premier League bottom half of the table or a top Championship team. Good defenders are not easy to come by and I think most of those teams would love to bring Benković in on loan, and if Leicester decide he is still not ready to start he can move permanently in the summer. He needs to do something if he wants any chance at being on the Euro 2020 squad.

 

 

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Nikola Moro – After Dinamo Zagreb missed out on qualifying for the Europa League, some of their star players could look to take the next step in their careers. One of those players is Nikola Moro. Moro has been one of Dinamo’s best players this season. He usually plays more of a defensive midfield position, but can also be deployed in attacking midfield. He is a strong passer and can score from range. He was one of the Croatian players linked with AC Milan after legendary midfielder Zvonimir Boban was appointed as Chief Football Officer, but the move never happened. He was also linked with an interesting move to Shakhtar Donetsk last summer after the sale of Fred, but Moro was injured while on duty with the U-21’s and could not make the move. Now he is being linked with a move to last season’s surprise team in the Champions League, Ajax. Ajax lost their star midfielder, Frenkie de Jong, to Barcelona this summer, but still have quality players like Donny van de Beek who is reportedly a target of Real Madrid. They also have young players like Ryan Gravenberch and Jurken Ekkelenkamp who are progressing well. It may be wise to stay at Dinamo until the end of the season unless Ajax sell van de Beek or another club comes in and guarantees he will get playing time.

 

 

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Mislav Oršić – Mislav Oršić is a very interesting case. After leaving Croatia to go to Korea, China, and back to Korea, he finds himself back at Dinamo Zagreb. While the first three players on this list were players who needed a move to gain more playing time and regain top form, Oršić is in the form of his life. He bagged a hat trick against Atalanta in Dinamo Zagreb’s first Champions League victory this season and is scoring for fun in the HNL. Again, Dinamo are now out of European competition and are really only fighting for the domestic double. It may be time to cash in on some of their top players while their value is high. Not only would a move be beneficial for Dinamo as they will probably sell him for a reasonable fee and have youngster Antonio Marin waiting for his chance in the first team, but this could be Oršić’s last chance to move to a bigger team. Maybe he doesn’t want to leave and likes being the star, and that’s fine. But there’s only so far you can go while being a big fish in a small pond. I would like the HNL to really develop and be competitive, slowly gaining more and more money and developing more star players, but at the end of the day, if Oršić wants his career to go further than just national team fringe player, he might just need to move onto a team in the bottom half of the table in one of Europe’s top 5 leagues or one of the top teams in a smaller league that plays in the Champions League every season. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen many teams linked with Oršić, but we’ll see what happens come the end of the transfer window.

 

 

I appreciate those that read all of, or at least most of my first article. But in the interest of at least trying to not make this article too long, here’s a list of players that I either think could or should move to a new team in the next month or so:
 

 

Bruno Petković, Marko Pjaca, Dino Perić, Dominik Livaković, Marko Livaja, and maybe Josip Brekalo.

 

 

Who do you think will move to a new club this winter? I would love to discuss it in the comments section with you.
 

 

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Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 18 comments





  1. Black man says:

    Good first time article, Vuki.
    I think that the summer transfer window is typically when larger transfers happen, although it would certainly be more exiting to witness a lot of action this winter, of course.



  2. Luchador says:

    Rebic should go to Augsburg, he could form a good partnership with Niederlechner.
    I also know that there is interest in Rebic from Guadalajara and Pachuca, I wouldn’t mind if Guadalajara acquired his services! And Rebic with his physicality could transition into Lucha Libre once his football career is over.



  3. CroatianPerson85 says:

    Great work Vuki.

    Rakitic should move asap, Modric should move after the Euro, Perisic in the air? Rebic situation sucks, Mandza went already, Pjaca 100p needs to move, Dinamo could and should cash in this summer but try and have a team that can compete again next year. Hard to do based on who they sell vs buy.

    Should Vlasic Brekalo stay and develop more? I don’t follow Brekalo enough but from what I’ve read here last while hasn’t been great yes?



  4. Maminjo says:

    I don’t think Moro or Orsic need a transfer right now.

    Both are playing first team football, and are in excellent form. Regarding the Euros this summer, neither will play but Orsic may become a useful substitute for us especially if there are injuries (so better he stay at Dinamo and continue to play at least until this summer).

    I would REALLY like to see Filip Benkovic get a transfer somewhere.

    I actually think he can contribute to the National Team RIGHT NOW but has now fallen into a similar situation at Leicester that Kramaric did many years back. I don’t think Dalic will call him up at all until he starts playing. Peric and (sadly) some of these other randoms (like Skoric, Melnjak or Bartolec) are more likely to be called up and waste a roster spot.

    If Benkovic gets a transfer in January and plays regularly, he will be called up for the Euros and be one of the first CBs off the bench for us. That could be very important for us in case of cards and injuries at the tournament. It’s also very important to integrate him earlier so our CB issue doesn’t become a bigger one when World Cup qualifying begins. We need to start planning for guys like Caleta-Car and Benkovic to take over from Vida and Lovren after the summer.

    Rebic, Rakitic and (to a lesser extent) Brekalo transfers would be nice, under the right circumstances…but these guys haven’t dropped off in their play for the National Team so I don’t think it’s an issue at all.

    Dalic relies on these guys, and won’t drop them from the team, so there is no risk there. It might even be better for us, as they won’t be exhausted with a long season when the summer comes (especially Rakitic, who literally used to play in multiple leagues/tournaments right up until the end of May).
    This could be a blessing in disguise for us.

    Also…hopefully Pjaca gets a transfer somewhere for a last-ditch shot at being called up.
    I think he’s completely done with those two knee injuries, but he really did have that “IT factor” before he went down with his first injury. Would be interesting to see what (if anything) he has left. Would be pretty awesome if the guy suddenly goes on PEDs and starts tearing it up, lol. He may as well at this point.



  5. Nikola Vukmanić (vuki) says:

    @Black man
    Yeah summer window is usually the busier window for sure, but I think a lot of our players are ready for a move now, because of different circumstances. The article isn’t necessarily what I think will happen, it’s just what rumors I’ve seen and what my opinion on all of them are.

    @CroatianPerson85
    I don’t think either Vlasic or Brekalo NEED a move. They are both performing for the national team in their current situation. Vlasic is basically CSKA Moscow’s best player. I definitely don’t see him moving unless an intriguing offer comes around in the summer after the Euros. Brekalo should only move if he goes somewhere that genuinely wants him and has plans to make him their star. Wolfsburg is a good level for him, but the coach can’t decide who he likes the best. The coach, Oliver Glasner brought a Brazilian winger Joao Victor with him from his former team and seems to like him more. I’d be interested to see Brekalo go to a top team that is in need of a winger because he really seems to perform best for teams like Croatia where he has top players around him. Basically neither should move unless the perfect situation arises.

    Pjaca is in a sticky situation. He is on a massive team that isn’t going to give him a shot unless they are comfortably winning a game. This hurts his chances at getting a move where he will actually play. Maybe Dinamo brings him back (at least on loan) after losing Orsic and/or Olmo. Which brings me to my next point.

    @Maminjo
    I think if Dinamo was smart, they would sell at least 2 or 3 of their better players now should they get good offers for them. The only competitions they are left in are the HNL and the Croatian Cup. Dinamo is head and shoulders above the other teams in Croatia. Sure, they might lose Orsic is turning 27 in a couple days, he’s not got too much time to really take that next step. He could and probably should wait until the summer, but I don’t think Dinamo would really be hurting if they lose him. Yes he’s been essentially their best performer, but with a lead at the top of the table and so many youngsters ready for the first team it wouldn’t be a terrible move. Orsic is the one who truly has something to lose if he moves and then doesn’t play. Dinamo can just let Marin share minutes with the other average wingers that they have or even bring back Pjaca on loan like I mentioned.

    Olmo is 100% getting a move by the end of the year. Petkovic better not be an idiot and go to Barcelona (although I think those rumors are full of crap). I think he would be good in the Bundesliga. Maybe come summer time he moves to a team around Wolfsburg’s level and then performs for a season or two before replacing Lewandowski at Bayern Munich? I think Dino Peric is decent, just not consistent. So basically like all of our recent defenders. He could move, but it wouldn’t hurt him to stick around. I’d like to see him and Josko Gvardiol starting next to each other. Theodophile and Dilaver are not good in my opinion. And yeah, like I said in the post, Moro shouldn’t go anywhere unless it’s the right situation.

    The Rakitic situation is just annoying for me, which is why I want him to move. I don’t think he necessarily wants to though. I think he’d probably stop having ‘injuries’ during every international break if he figured out his club situation.

    As for Rebic, I’ve seen a lot of rumors that Zlatan is going back to Milan. That essentially puts a dagger in Rebic’s chances at being the starting striker. He COULD get a wing position, but it seems Milan has already given up on him and he should just go back to Frankfurt where he’s guaranteed to be a starter and will likely perform decently.

    Lastly, Benkovic is the one in this post that desperately needs at least a loan move. He has the potential to be such a good defender, but he’s spending his most important years playing in the U23 Premier League. He could go back to Celtic, but I’m pretty sure they actually like the CB duo now. There are a few Premier League teams that desperately need CBs that I think would be good moves for him. The 3 bottom teams would be lucky to have him (Norwich, Watford, Aston Villa) and even teams like Everton (who just hired Ancelotti) or West Ham who are usually mid-table, but have been struggling could use him. The problem at Leicester is that Benkovic was injured at the beginning of the season so Evans and Soyuncu nailed down those positions. Soyuncu is young and has been solid. Might not even be a Leicester player by next season, but Evans is just an average Englishman. I think Leicester would love to have a CB pairing of Soyuncu and Benkovic, but since they are doing so well they don’t want to change things up.



  6. CroatiaU14 says:

    Great article Vuki!!!

    I feel like recently so many of our youngsters are rumored to be headed to AC Milan. I hope none of them go there. They’re in shambles right now, not the AC Milan that they used to be.



  7. Maminjo says:

    It would only be good if they ALL went (along with Zlatan and Olmo).

    Imagine a team with Zlatan, Rakitic, Kramaric, Moro, Olmo, Rebic, etc…

    Insane amount of offense with crazy technical ability.



  8. Dannyj says:

    Great read
    Thanks for contributing vuki

    Ya looks like the benkovic situation is like Kramarić
    Just bad timing
    Well let’s hope he makes a move and has a career like Kramas
    That wouldn’t be so bad for us

    Rakitić is in a nasty abusive relationship with someone he thinks is hotter but once he leaves he will probably be happier

    Ya the Dinamo studs… interesting to see what happens with them..,
    Pjaca going back to Dinamo to get his legs back(bad pun) wouldn’t be a bad way to get his feet again



  9. Nikola Vukmanić (vuki) says:

    Appreciate all of the kind words. Hope I can bring more incite to you all in the future. Nothing I enjoy talking about more than nogomet.



  10. BZ says:

    Please do not incite any of the trolls on this site.

    Your insight was solid.

    I also hope Orsic makes a move soon, cause his stock will likely keep declining. Have no interest in seeing him on the NT.



  11. Nikola Vukmanić (vuki) says:

    @BZ

    LOL. I can’t believe I used incite and not insight. I literally face palmed. I’m gonna blame it on it being 1 AM and driving for 2 hours before that.

    As for Orsic, I think he’s a good impact sub for now, but he definitely won’t stick around the national team for much longer than maybe the Euros unless he takes a step forward in his career. Too much talent to come around. I could even see someone like Ivanusec taking his spot before the Euros. I really enjoy watching him dominate for our U21 side. Antonio Marin is our future star at the moment. Hope he pans out. I still think Halilovic will be a serviceable player one day. Not a great player, but decent enough. Maybe I’m just too optimistic.



  12. Dano says:

    I think Bruno Petkovic will be sold for big money soon..he is on everyones radar as he has taken the next step as a goalscorer..he has become very dangerous in the area even with defenders all over him. He will be a huge part of Euro 2020 for us!!!!



  13. CroatianPerson85 says:

    @Dano – Petkovic is good but I I would like to see how he plays against better countries and clubs in Europe. He’s been scoring against the likes of Hungary and Slovakia. I want to see him against a top 5 or 10 national team in Europe. Man city was the only real top club Dinamo has played in the last while.



  14. Jamon Iberico says:

    Mandzukic to Dubai is a shame for top European clubs. Munich will not see another treble in a long time. They could have had more if he stayed. Juve and Atletico Madrid are a joke. The sellouts and geriatrics.

    I think he retired from the NT too early. The goal against that cockey british piece of shit goalie in 2018 was epic. He said it was his best game.





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