6 clubs, 3 loan moves and 22 international caps later, Ante Rebić is still 24 and ready to move to Europe’s elite.
The Croatian has finally found his feet for Eintracht Frankfurt after successive loan spells where he failed to impress. A goal at the World Cup 2018 too has put him in the spotlight, with Manchester United heavily linked to him. Fees upwards of £40m are being thrown about by different media outlets and with Rebic’s age and experience, the valuation is understandable.
Ante Rebić began his youth career in Croatia with Vinjani and Imotski before moving to RNK Split. He made his senior debut in 2011 against Dynamo Zagreb, scoring the equaliser, a sign of things to come for the teenager at the time. 5 goals in the 2011/12 season followed by 10 goals in the 2012/13 showed Rebić had risen to prominence in the Croatian top flight.
His performances for RNK Split had pricked up the ears of clubs from Europe’s top five leagues, with interest from Serie A and the Premier League. The former in fact was Rebić’s next destination with Fiorentina the suitors for the young Croat in 2013.
However, the transition was difficult for Rebić and just one goal in his first season for Fiorentina was a disappointment considering the plaudits and potential he arrived with. A loan move to Bundesliga 2 side RB Leipzig in 2014 was next, yet his 10 games for the side had nothing to show for. He was still selected for the 2014 World Cup, where his contribution was yet again limited.
1 goal in 6 appearances for the struggling Croatian international was yet again unsatisfactory and he was sent on loan to fellow Serie A side Hellas Verona. Yet again, his short stint there was a disaster with a sending off his only notable achievement for the side who were relegated to Serie B.
It all seemed over to Rebic. He had failed to recreate his form from the Croatian division in Italy or Germany, with many believing he was a one season wonder in a minnow league. However Eintracht Frankfurt decided to take a punt on the winger and signed him on loan for the 2016/17 season.
On this instance, the penny had dropped. Under former Croatian national team manager Niko Kovac, he had a positive impact with 2 goals and 2 assists, a respectable tally in his 24 games. Glimpses of his potential and promise that he had shown previously was enough to convince Frankfurt to extend his loan to another season with an option to buy.
His numbers skyrocketed with an impressive 9 goals and 3 assists in all competitions proving he was not a failure, but still a talent. Two of these goals in the DVB Pokal Final against Bayern Munich gave Frankfurt their first cup since 1988. His sublime season had led to his selection for the World Cup and attracted Europe’s elite.
Rebić is primarily a winger able to play on either flank, but also able to play down the middle. He is a powerful, skilful dribbler with an ability to strike from distance as shown during his time in the Bundesliga. Furthermore, he is a creative winger that is capable of producing key passes that a Manchester United team, who lack creativity, require.
Now after a decent campaign in the World Cup helping his team reach the World Cup final, Rebić may have some opportunities to further his career further after the years he has lost due to poor form. At 24, he certainly has time to improve, yet is he better than Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford? If he is to sign for Manchester United, only time will tell whether he is.