Andrej Kramaric has been tipped as the new leader of Croatia after the country’s top but aging stars like Luka Modric and Rakitic would have exited the scene.
After he struggled to make his way in the Premier League in England with Leicester City, the 26-year-old striker has got his career back on track at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.
His 13 goals in 34 league appearances helped Hoffenheim finish third in the Bundesliga and they will feature in the UEFA Champions League next season.
“He’s the new leader of Croatia football,” remarked Croatian journalist Ivan Paun.
“He has had a great season with his club, who will play in the Champions League next season.”
Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic, on the other hand, posted an average season, scoring only 11 goals.
Croatia play the 4-2-3-1 formation and for the likes of Modric and Rakitic Russia 2018 could well be their swan song as they are already in the twilight of their careers.
Coach Zlatko Dalic made his name as a top coach in Asia, but he has been heavily criticised for lacking the experience at this level of the game.
“We have to appoint a local man because we cannot afford a big-name coach and ultimately the dream is for one of our own to lead the national team,” said another journalist, who was one of several Croatian journalists who have followed Nigeria here in Essentuki.