Coach Branko Ivanković says NK Dinamo Zagreb "believe in miracles" as they seek a two-goal win at Stade Rennais FC to take them to the UEFA Cup Round of 32.
Fourth in Group D with just a point from their opening three games, Dinamo can nonetheless progress to the last 32, at the expense of SK Brann, if they prevail by two goals or more in Rennes. It is a long shot for the Croatian league leaders but coach Ivanković is not about to abandon his dream of European progress. "We believe in miracles," he said. "We don't want to give up."
However, while Dinamo's fans are hoping to see their favourites play UEFA Cup football in the spring, the biggest issue at the Maksimir Stadium is the future of 22-year-old captain Luka Modrić. The much-coveted midfield prodigy said recently: "I want to leave the club this winter, that is my goal, but if there are no offers that will satisfy me and my club, then we can talk about staying at Dinamo."
Given the number of clubs that have been watching the Croatian international, it seems unlikely that Dinamo will not receive any offers over the winter break, although vice-president Zdravko Mamić insists that they will be doing everything possible to keep him in Zagreb, including offering him €3m to stay for two more seasons.
That reported contract offer came as a surprise to the player himself, who said: "If it's true, it's nothing new as he already said that once before, but we have never discussed it. But what I really want is to leave." Modrić added: "I said a long time ago that I would like to go to Spain, but the transfer window is long in January and who knows what might happen then."
Another possible destination is Amsterdam with scouts and officials from AFC Ajax said to have visited Mamić last month to discuss Modrić's future, and the player may see the club as an ideal stepping stone on his way to an even bigger challenge. However, with Premier League pair Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC now being touted as his most ardent admirers, it may be that a move to England is on the cards.
The importance of Modrić to Dinamo was underlined when they lost 5-2 at NK Slaven Koprivnica without him in their final league game of 2007. Dinamo are clearly planning for a future without him, having brought back 29-year-old Igor Bišćan on a three-and-a-half year contract, but they will be hoping that – if he is leaving - Modrić can produce one last burst of magic to help overwhelm Rennes.
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