Rangers’ confirmation this evening that Croat Niko Katic is indeed off to Hadjuk Split on loan came with a small caveat, of a ‘recall’ option in January.
The contract is a full season’s loan, with an option to recall him in January. Rangers fans shouldn’t get overly excited about this, given a lot of loan deals do include such clauses – indeed our very own Jermain Defoe’s original 18-month loan to Rangers had first recall options for each transfer window, something Eddie Howe wasn’t interested in executing.
But it gives us security on big Niko, and we have little doubt the lad will excel back home with Split.
The issues we have remain that loan purgatory. We got absolute pelters over our Itten piece, with many punters explaining he wasn’t finished at Ibrox at all, and that he could stand out in the Bundesliga and be recalled for a second chance in Govan. And it’s true, he could be the first real exception of a player going out on loan and making it at Ibrox on his return under this boss.
But mostly that doesn’t happen under Gerrard. Unless you want to stretch it a little with Stephen Kelly and Robby McCrorie.
It’s why we have very limited hope that Katic will now become a fixture in our first team – he wasn’t able to do it when he was in frighteningly good form in 19/20, losing his place to Helander, so why now?
And furthermore, his injury is being used as a line to explain why he’s being loaned out. To gain valuable minutes. But this is a bit of a paradox given 1: he’s completely fit and could easily get those minutes with Rangers 2: even when completely match fit he wasn’t really part of Stevie’s Rangers.
What we’re meaning is we believe, sadly, Niko’s time is done at Rangers, and the loan backs that notion up – it’s about getting him fit and playing so he’s ready to make a move out of Ibrox come next year, and has enough matches to be an attractive prospect to potential suitors.
We could be wrong. Niko could be the big exception who goes out on loan then returns to get the big place in the Rangers first team.
We really would love that, because regulars will know we are huge huge fans of the boy.
History isn’t promising on that front, but time will tell. Good luck in Croatia, Niko.