Rangers scouts have reportedly identified a young Croatian midfielder in Ivan Lepinjica as the latest links claim the Gers are lining up a return to the Balkans.
The latest central midfield talent to be linked to the Gers, Lepinjica is the captain of the Croatian U21s and according to the source, the Rijeka star is a revered talent in Croatia.
Football Insider are claiming that Ibrox scouts have identified the 6ft3 defensive midfielder ahead of the new season despite the player’s injury problems this campaign.
Lepinjica missed a sizeable chunk of the 20/21 season through injury and according to FI, this has turned potential Premier League suitors off the player.
This meant the talented holding midfielder only managed four league starts for Rijeka last season but according to the report Rangers remain undeterred.
However, the same news outlet would later claim that the Gers are battling Tottenham Hotspur for a loan-to-buy deal this summer [Football Insider].
It’s interesting to consider this story alongside Rangers’ recent history in the Balkans.
The region has regularly produced some top talent for the Gers and the club has a proud history of Croatian and Bosnian footballers.
Most recently the Gers have raided Croatia for moves for Niko Katic and Borna Barisic who arrived from Slaven Bepulo and NK Osijek respectively.
Albanian international Eros Grezda was another name who came from the region during Steven Gerrard’s tenure and unfortunately stands as the most expensive failure of Gerrard’s Ibrox reign.
The Daily Record reported back in 2019 that the Gers had attended the Croatian Super Cup Final and following Grezda’s return to NK Osijek, there were murmurs of a scouting link-up with the club.
Macedonian midfielder Mile Todorov even enjoyed trials between the two clubs whilst the Gers were once heavily linked to Osijek striker Mirko Maric.
The Croat is one of a few options to replace the Colombian, but other clubs are interested in Marić too. #RangersFC
— Filip Mishov (@fmishov) July 26, 2020
There will be few Gers fans who would turn down the opportunity to sign another player from Croatia given the club’s rich association with players from the country.
Not only that, but with the offer of help from a Bosnian Ibrox cult hero, there remains a real opportunity to get a direct feed to the best talent in the region.