July 10, 2020 – The president of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Davor Suker, said in an interview with the Spanish sports newspaper AS that he would look for players of Croatian origin around the world that could play for the Croatia national team.
“We have a lot of big projects along the way, including organizing competitions for Croatian footballers in the USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Australia and other countries with a strong Croatian diaspora. Compared to Germany, Spain, France, Italy or England, we have a small population, so we need to identify all talented Croatian players, in all corners of the world,” said Suker on HRT, noting that he is focused on current work in HNS and that he “enjoys his position”, and is also focused on working in the Executive Board of the European Football Association (UEFA), so he is not thinking about changing jobs.
The former striker of Sevilla and Real Madrid thinks that it would be good for the captain of the national team, Luka Modric, to play fewer games at his club next season so that he could come to the European Championship in June 2021 fresh and ready.
“For us in Croatia, it would be good for Luka to come to the Euros with 35 to 40 games played instead of 55 to 60. The next season, with a full calendar, will be challenging for everyone. At this point in his career, I think he would be better off not playing all the games,” Suker said.
Modric has made 36 appearances for Real Madrid so far this season. By the end of the championship, there are four games left and the return match of the last-16 of the Champions League against Manchester City. The Madrid club lost at home in the first round 1-2. Modric will turn 35 in two months and is the oldest player at Real Madrid. His contract with the leading team of the Spanish championship expires in a year. Asked whether Real Madrid would extend his contract after June 30, 2021, Suker replied:
“That is not my decision, and I respect Luka and Real very much to suggest something to them. Luka is a phenomenon, he will turn 35 in September, he has won everything in his career, and he still has the same ambition, passion and hunger for football like a young player. Luka takes good care of his body and continues to show first-class football on the pitch. I believe Real Madrid respects that and appreciates everything he has done there over the years. Therefore, I believe that he will have a place for him as long as he plays at this level,” said Suker.
The vice-captain of the Croatian national team, Ivan Rakitic, will have his contract with Barcelona expire in a year. Suker was asked if the Catalan club was unfair to the 32-year-old midfielder because he was deprived of his place in the starting lineup this season, while speculations about his possible sale are ongoing.
“I do not participate in the daily activities of Barcelona, so I cannot judge whether Ivan was treated unfairly, only he knows that. I know he is proud to wear the Barca jersey and always gives his best. He has more than 300 appearances for Barca, has won many trophies, and has been a key player in many important matches. In addition, he is a great worker on the pitch, is focused on the team, has leadership skills and never creates problems in the dressing room. I believe that all coaches and clubs are more than happy to have such a player,” Suker replied.
Last month, Rakitic said that he wanted to play more at Barcelona, where he has been since the summer of 2014, and to stay there as long as possible.
“At this stage of his career, after everything he has won, it is normal that he wants to play and not sit on the bench. If he can play in Barcelona, I believe that will remain his first option. But if Ivan and Barcelona feel that the time has come to take a new step, which is normal in football, I do not doubt that he will be a great reinforcement for any big club because he still has a lot of good football left in him,” Suker believes.
Rakitic has played in 39 games for the current champion Barcelona, which currently holds second place in the championship.
“If he leaves Barcelona, he will be proud of the time he spent there because it was six great years. When you spend your best years playing for a big club and winning big trophies, it means that you have managed your career well,” said the president of HNS.
Suker played for Sevilla as a striker from 1991 to 1996 and then moved to Real Madrid, where he remained until 1999.
To conclude, it was announced on Thursday by HRT that Zlatko Dalic will lead the national team until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The president of the Croatian Football Federation and Dalic have officially agreed on a new contract for two years and five months.
This has yet to be confirmed by the HNS Executive Board, which will meet later this month, but it should only be a formality.
Dalic was supposed to lead Croatia at the Euros in 2020, and as it was postponed for a year, he decided to stay at least until then. His existing contract ended in the summer, and he had rich offers from China and Arab countries.
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