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Nikola Kalinić (born 5 January 1988 in Solin) is a Croatianmarker football striker currently playing for Blackburn Roversmarker and the Croatian national team. Croatia manager Slaven Bilić has described him as "the future of Croatian football".

Club career

Early loan years

Born in the small town of Solin, Kalinić started his career as a teenager in the Prva HNL at age 17, playing on loan and debuting against his initial club Hajduk Split on November 19, 2005. In his loan time at Pula, he had a slow but fair start considering his young age. Despite not playing all too regularly in a short single season with them, he still managed to adapt and find a goslacoring form, netting 3 goals in 12 league appearances. His first goals in the Prva HNL came in the 2-0 victory against Kamen Ingrad on September 23, 2006 as he netted a brace to give his side the victory. Upon ending his short time at Pula, manager Krunoslav Jurčić was largely impressed with him, stating he could become Croatia's Ibrahimović.

Despite his intentions to stay at Pula, he returned to Hajduk and was immediately sent out on loan to HNK Šibenik where he saw occasional first team action and immediately impressed with all round performances and regular goalscoring ability, netting 4 goals in a mere 8 appearances.

Return to Hajduk Split

After clearly showing the ability to adapt well to the Croatian league, he returned to Hajduk and saw plenty of first team action immediately. He made his returning debut against Cibalia as a substitute, and gained his first 11 starting spot in the squad during the 2-1 victory against Osijek at the Poljud Stadiummarker. His 17 league goals in his first season with Hajduk was only beaten by league topscorer Zelimir Terkes, who managed 21 goals. However, it was a great achievement for the youngster who had initially set a target of scoring 15 goals, which he ended up exceeding. He finished his 2007/08 season at 5th place with Hajduk in the league, also helping them reach the final of the Croatian Cup in the same season and ended with a total of 26 goals, receiving the coveted Swan d'or Award, from the Croatian Press Association.

He kicked off the next season of play by scoring the second goal in Hajduk's 4-0 away victory against Birkirkara FC, thus advancing them to the next round of qualification for the UEFA Cup. In Hajduk's derby match over league rivals Dinamo Zagreb, Kalinic scored the first goal with a penalty kick. Hajduk went on to win the game 2-0 and overtake Dinamo in the league table.

Kalinic went for a 1-week trial at English Premier League team Portsmouth F.C. in late July 2009, a fee thought to be in the region of £6 million was agreed. However the move fell through due to financial reasons. On 31 July the same year, Kalinić was heavily linked with another Premier League club Blackburn Rovers F.C.marker. Later that same day, the player's agent confirmed that the player had been at Blackburn's ground talking to the club on the 30th and 31st with regard to the deal to take the player to Ewood Parkmarker. The player's agent also confirmed that the fee was 7 million Euros should the deal be completed, the contract had been agreed, and that his client was due to sign for the club. The player also made light that the Lancashiremarker-based club expected "big things" from the highly-rated Croat.On August 01 2009, the move stepped closer when Hajduk Split president Mate Peroš confirmed that Blackburn Roversmarker had an offer accepted by the club. An offer which was subsequently the best offer from any club. He also confirmed "Very quickly we finished the talks with the club (Rovers)." It is now understood that the move is now waiting for a Work Permit to be issued, and then Nikola will officially become a Blackburn Roversmarker player.

Blackburn Rovers

On August 03 2009 it was reported by Sky Sports News that Nikola Kalinic had signed for Rovers from Hajduk Split on a four-year deal. It is believed the signing is around the value of £6 million pounds and is currently waiting for a successful work permit application to finalise the deal. On August 10 2009, Kalinic was successfully awarded a work permit and will be officially signing for Roversmarker when he has returned from Croatiamarker to collect his permit, meaning he will not be officially registered in time for Rovers' opening game of the season against Manchester City.

On the 13th August 2009 Nikola Kalinić was officially confirmed as a Blackburn Rovers player and will wear the No.22 jersey for the 2009-10 season. However his long awaited debut for Rovers will be delayed for around a week as his International Papers have not arrived. This means he will be missing the opening game of the season against Manchester City. He had a disappointing debut against Sunderland, failing to hit the target. He also failed to hit the target in the Carling Cup against League One Gillingham, in a game in which he was booked and later substituted at the half-time interval.On 27 October 2009 Kalinic scored his first goal from the penalty spot vs Peterborough in the Carling Cup.

International career

He was a key player in the Croatian national under-21 team during his younger youth playing years. He also represented his country at under 17 and under 19 youth level. He first made a name for himself at international level at age 17 during the 2004/05 UEFA European Championship when he finished the attempted campaign as the top scorer with 11 goals. At under 19 level, he managed another 5 goals during his sides preliminary round of the same tournament. He also scored a hat-trick against Lithuania in Croatia's 3-0 victory, which secured them a spot in the next elite round of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2006.

Initially supposed to be called up by head coach Slaven Bilić for the few remaining qualifying games of Euro 2008, Kalinić missed the chance due to injury and was instead replaced by Mario Mandžukić. However, his constant impressive abilities earned him a place in Croatia's final squad for the Euro 2008 tournament. He will officially wear the number 9 jersey while he plays for Croatia.Kalinić made his first appearance for the senior national team on May 24, 2008, coming on as a substitute in the 62nd minute of Croatia's 1-0 friendly win against Moldova. He went on to make his first competitive appearance for his national side at Euro 2008 in Croatia's final group game against Poland, coming on as a substitute for goalscorer Ivan Klasnić in the 1-0 victory.

References

  1. http://www.nikolakalinic.com/biografija.html
  2. Croatians cruise in southern openers
  3. http://www.croatiantimes.com/index.php?id=2857
  4. Nikola closes on Rovers move - AGENT
  5. Rovers close on Kalinic
  6. Rovers sign Kalinic
  7. Rekordan transfer: Kalinić u Blackburnu!
  8. Kalinic work permit granted


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