The perfect alternative to Diego Costa? Meet Chelsea target Andrej Kramaric

The Rijeka forward, already one of his club's best ever players after just over a year there, is close to joining Jose Mourinho's side and has the stomach for a battle to play
By Ante Buskulic

At 23 and after just over a year at the club, Andrej Kramaric is already one of the best players in Rijeka's history. He is one of the biggest names in Croatian football and letting him go also counts as one of Dinamo Zagreb's biggest mistakes.

Kramaric is said to have scored over 400 goals for Dinamo's youth teams and was recognised as the best player of his generation but was never given the chance in their senior side before being moved on in 2013.

The striker went to Rijeka to kickstart his career – something that he has certainly achieved, and so much more. Quickly becoming an important part of national coach Niko Kovac's vision for the future, with two goals in his first four Croatia caps, Kramaric is now wanted by many top European teams. It is Chelsea, though, who are close to securing his signature.

Local fans are sceptical of the wisdom of joining the Blues, given the Premier League giants' record of loaning out a horde of young prospects, never to be seen near the first team. The hope is that Kramaric will move somewhere where he can be given a chance to prove himself as a top-quality forward.

Going to England, and specifically to Stamford Bridge, could make or break his career at a crucial point in his development. Given minutes, he should be able to score plenty in the Premier League, and he has never been one to fear competition for a place in the starting XI, always taking the more difficult route to success and believing in himself.

The 23-year-old, who has scored on his competitive debut for every team for whom he has ever played – Dinamo, Lokomotiva, Rijeka and Croatia although, perhaps surprisingly, he is not quite your stereotypical 'fox in the box'.

Kramaric is always keen to be involved in the game and has a knack of shooting from distance. He's scored with some quite spectacular lobbed efforts this season too, while his dribbling is a particular strength. It is his goal record that draws the most attention, though - Kramaric has already scored 28 goals in just 30 2014-15 appearances.

His father, Josip, is left to take care of his career as the younger Kramaric insists that "I don't want to have anything to do with agents... it's better for me that way". Indeed, his refusal to sign for Dinamo chief executive Zdravko Mamic's management company at the start of his professional career is suspected to be a part of why he was never given a fair shot with the Croatian giants.

But is the Chelsea deal that his father has organised the right move? There could well be room for him at Stamford Bridge. Though Diego Costa is clearly Jose Mourinho's No.1 up front, Didier Drogba is close to the end of his career and Loic Remy has been unspectacular since his switch from QPR – and the Blues have plenty of fixtures left in the season in which Kramaric could get a chance.

Rijeka coach Matjaz Kek feels that it would be better for Kramaric to wait until the summer to move as, with the Croatian league having finished in mid-December, the striker might find it difficult to rush back from holiday to adapt to the Premier League.

Both Kek and Kovac have urged him to choose a club where he would play rather than let money talk but Kramaric is not the sort to chase the easy option. If a deal is done with Chelsea, it will be because he feels that he can make an impact there.