Friday, January 21, 2005

Transfer of The Decade

Those who follow Croatian soccer league are more than aware that they may see many interesting things, but truly competitive soccer is not one of them. That doesn't mean that there aren't competitions between clubs, but those competitions rarely have anything to do with the events on pitch.

In case of Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb, the old rivalry is reflected not only in the ancient feud between Torcida and Bad Blue Boys – clubs' fan groups – but also in the rivalry between Igor Štimac (Igor Stimac) and Zdravko Mamić (Zdravko Mamic), two strong and colourful personalities that dominate those two clubs. For years those two men fought bitter war over player transfers, trying to secure each and every promising soccer star (or, to be more precise, what the media tried to describe as "promising soccer star") for Hajduk and Dinamo.

Lately, it is Hajduk that has the upper hand. Dinamo, plagued by bad results and with players being subjected to threats and physical assaults from disgruntled Bad Blue Boys, was helplessly watching their arch-rival cruising to top spot in the mid-season. All that led to internal problems in the club, most of them related to club's main star, or, what many had hoped to be club's main star – Niko Kranjčar (Niko Kranjcar), son of Zlatko Kranjčar, veteran Dinamo Zagreb player.

Niko Kranjčar, his excess weight and consequent lack of playing potential are among convenient excuses for the bad results of Dinamo. Kranjčar was gradually snubbed by fans and his team mates and his transfer was seen as a godsend.

However, this was also opportunity for Štimac to make his move and offer what many saw as a "transfer of the decade". Media reports that some 1.5 million € were offered for Kranjčar's transfer.

It could be argued that the main motive for transfer is less improving Hajduk and more humiliating Dinamo. In any case, many hard-core Dinamo fans saw the transfer as betrayal and Kranjčar was very reluctant to agree until very last moment.

However, after days of drama and Kranjčar being subjected to intense pressure from his father, the deal was clinched today.

It remains to be seen whether the change of scenery will help Kranjčar improve his game.

In any case, those Croatian interested in good soccer are more likely to watch RTL Televizija, which has recently acquired broadcasting rights for English Premier League.


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