Rangers have been linked with a move for striker Mirko Maric, a 6ft 1 left-footed striker who currently plies his trade with NK Osijek in the Croatian 1.HNL where he leads the scoring charts with 15 goals.
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maric – who will turn 24 later this month – began his career at Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg where, as an 18-year-old, he had a productive 2013-2014 season which prompted Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb to sign him. Not only did Zagreb sign him but they awarded him a seven-year deal.
Zoran Mamic, the club’s sporting director, said: “Mirko was certainly the greatest talent of the neighbouring Premier League and we were happy to have agreed his arrival at Dinamo.
“He is a young player in which we recognised the potential and quality, and we hoped that in the years ahead we would be strengthening for our club.”
Zagreb sent him on loan to NK Lokomotiva. The two clubs enjoy a close relationship and Maric spent two and a half seasons at the LOK.
During the third campaign there, Maric – who now has Croatian citizenship – was signed by Hungarian side Videoton where he made only 20 appearances before returning to Croatia, signing for Osijek in September 2017.
His career so far has not been awash with goals but it has been a respectable return, hitting double figures in five of his seven seasons of playing first-team football. This season, however, has been his most prolific with 17 goals in all competitions.
His 15 league goals have helped fire Osijek into third place in the Croatian league and have been worth 11 points to the team.
If Rangers were to sign Maric they would be getting a very interesting striker. The goals he has scored this season show that he has the striker’s knack of being in the right place at the right time. Eight of his strikes have come from inside the six-yard box.
Yet, he has also produced other moments of magic – from the desire to get on to a cross to net against Rudes, to a wonderful solo goal against the same opposition. There was a thunderous free-kick in a win over Inter Zapresic and a pressure penalty to secure victory against Dinamo Zagreb last weekend.
Those goals would suggest he is a very selfish, predatory striker. But that description couldn’t be further from the truth. He falls into the category of cultured footballer with a delicate left foot.
He is adept at dropping off the front line or drifting wide to collect the ball then using his vision and technique to set up team-mates, whether with a cute reverse ball or a clipped pass into their path.
On the negative side, despite competing regularly in the air he has only netted one header, while he lacks the acceleration to take him away from opponents.
Reports suggest that Rangers have been scouting the player since the club met Osijek in the Europa League qualifiers last summer. Maric started both games, a 1-0 defeat and 1-1 draw.
The player is friends with Rangers defender Nikola Katic on social media, both players having been born in Bosnia but play for Croatia.
Maric has two caps for the Croatian national team, both coming in the China Cup against Chile and China.
He started his international career with the country of his birth, playing for the Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 sides before switching to Croatia at Under-21 level after a conversation with his family.
Maric is valued at €1.5 million, however Rangers will be expected to pay £3m according to reports.