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Niko Kranjcar

davor_suker2010-05-10 15:10:51 +0000 #1
Article on Niko..

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Player to Watch: Kranjcar revels in responsibility

21 November 2005

by FIFAworldcup.com

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It may seem premature to mention Croatia's young playmaker Niko Kranjcar in the same breath as Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard but for one former Croatian international there is one definite similarity.

Slaven Bilic, a member of the Croatia team that finished third at France 98 and now national U-21 coach, sees echoes of Lampard's early career in the struggle Kranjcar faced to win over a sceptical public following his elevation to the senior national side.

This scepticism was born out of the fact that the coach who promoted Kranjcar from the U-21s was his own father Zlatko. Kranjcar Sr, himself a former Yugoslavian international midfielder, called his son into the squad after replacing Otto Baric in summer 2004 and immediately handed him a starting place.

Kranjcar's competitive international debut came in the opening FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Hungary in Zagreb on 4 September last year – just a month after his 20th birthday - and he went on to appear in all but one of their ten fixtures as they progressed to Germany as European Group 8 winners.

According to Bilic, Kranjcar, the only domestic-based regular in Croatia's starting lineup, has "definitely proved himself with the national team" but he concedes it was not easy at first. Recalling his time with a young Lampard during his playing days at West Ham, Bilic compares the two, saying: "I remember it was the same problem for Frank Lampard at West Ham. People were saying Frank was there because his father (Frank Lampard Sr) was assistant manager but look at him now – he's the best player in Europe.

"With Niko, maybe some other coach would not have given him a chance but Croatia have missed that kind of creative player; we used to have (Robert) Prosinecki and (Aljosa) Asanovic but since them we've not had one. Most of our midfielder players are more defensive so we really needed someone."

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Hence Kranjcar's rapid elevation - and Croatia's success in qualifying as group winners suggests his father made the right decision. The creator in the five-man Croatian midfield, Kranjcar Jr came into his own as their qualifying campaign reached a climax, scoring and playing a key role in the 3-1 win in Bulgaria on 4 June. He then struck Croatia's goal in a 1-1 friendly draw with Brazil in August before netting his third international goal against Malta.

Bilic says: "He proved himself in the national team against some good opponents like Sweden and Bulgaria and he scored against Brazil. He's got a great touch, great skill, great vision and he can finish when he gets near the box."

Youngest Dinamo captain

These qualities were evident from an early age in Kranjcar. Starting out with Dinamo Zagreb, he made history at the club by replacing the legendary Zvonimir Boban as their youngest ever captain. In 2003, Dinamo won the championship and his role was recognised as he finished second in the poll for the best player in the Croatian league.

Although he lifted the Croatian Cup as Dinamo captain in 2004 by the end of the year his relationship with the club had soured and in January 2005, having played 85 games and scored 19 goals in a Dinamo shirt, Kranjcar left for rivals Hajduk Split in a transfer worth 1.5m euros. It was a massive deal in Croatian football - where 100,000 euros is usually regarded as a reasonable outlay – but by the summer he had another championship medal to his name.

Kranjcar started this season by scoring the only goal of the Croatian Super Cup against Rijeka – his extra-time free-kick settling matters – but the first half of 2005/06 has not been a happy time for Hajduk. Still, in Kranjcar, there is no doubting both they and Croatia have a player of vast potential.

Next summer's FIFA World Cup™ finals offer Kranjcar a wonderful platform for realising that potential but, as Bilic says, this is a player with time on his side, whatever happens in Germany. "People forget he is only 21 as he has been playing regularly in the Croatian league for four years now but he has got a long time in front of him."

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So what do you guys think? will he come good?


Dado_Prso_092010-05-10 15:21:21 +0000 #2
he goina be good hes only what 21 ?( i think) and hes already a good player i look forward to watching him play when he is 28
Mirko Mandic2010-05-10 15:27:27 +0000 #3
he will do great our only CENTRAL PLAYMAKER, if we score goals through the middle he will play big roles in them...
purger2010-05-10 15:23:31 +0000 #4
His true value will be showed when he lives croatian domestic league and ends in one of the big 5 european leagues.

Then we will truly see if he is or he isn't..
Mirko Mandic2010-05-10 16:18:03 +0000 #5
there has too be something why he hasn't left to date... i seem to recall intrest from Portsmouth and AC Milan while he was at Dinamo.
davor_suker2010-05-10 17:22:06 +0000 #6
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mirko Mandic

there has too be something why he hasn't left to date... i seem to recall intrest from Portsmouth and AC Milan while he was at Dinamo.

He didnt go to Milan because of something to do with a work permit and they ended up finding someone else.
Mirko Mandic2010-05-10 17:05:26 +0000 #7
Quote:

Originally Posted by davor_suker

He didnt go to Milan because of something to do with a work permit and they ended up finding someone else.

and portsmouth?
davor_suker2010-05-10 15:37:56 +0000 #8
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mirko Mandic

and portsmouth?

Theyre a shit club he wouldnt go there, and i think theyd struggle to afford him.

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