Jelavic brings hope for the Toffees

Published : Feb 23, 2012 00:00 IST



A lack of financial clout has made it difficult for the Toffees boss, David Moyes, to compete in the transfer market in recent seasons, but the Merseyside club stumped up GBP5.5 million to bring in Nikica Jelavic from Rangers on transfer deadline day. Over to Dominic Bryant.

A lack of goals has ensured it has been a frustrating season for Everton but the big-money signing of Nikica Jelavic has brought renewed optimism at Goodison Park.

With just 24 goals in as many English Premier League games, the Toffees have won only eight EPL games and are 11th in the table.

A lack of financial clout has made it difficult for the Toffees boss, David Moyes, to compete in the transfer market in recent seasons, but the Merseyside club stumped up GBP5.5 million to bring in Jelavic from Rangers on transfer deadline day. And the Croatia international is relishing the challenge of leading the line for the Toffees in the top flight.

“It is a big thing for me and it is a new step in my career, a step forward,” he said. “I am very pleased and very excited, it is a new challenge for me.

“The Scottish Premier League is not as high a level as here in England but I think it will help a lot as it is not so much a big difference.

“I think I can bring some good football and to score many goals and to try to win some trophies.”

Jelavic's career began unremarkably during a spell with Croatian side Hadjuk Split and then Belgian club Zulte Waregram.

However, his career took off when he joined Austrian side Rapid Vienna in 2008. Previously, the 26-year-old had not been recognised for his goal-scoring abilities, but in his final season in Austria Jelavic found the net 17 times in the league and bagged a further nine goals in 12 Europa League matches.

His form caught the attention of Scottish Premier League champions Rangers and Jelavic was eager to secure a move to Glasgow.

Ironically it was Everton who rivalled Rangers for his signature, but when the EPL club decided not to follow up their interest, Rangers got their man in a GBP4 million deal.

Jelavic was a massive hit in his debut season for Rangers. His clinical finishing ensured he scored 19 goals in 27 SPL starts as the Glasgow giants secured a domestic double.

The Croatia frontman was a huge fans' favourite and his winning goal in extra-time in the Scottish Cup Final against arch-rivals Celtic last year ensured his popularity soared even higher.

Jelavic found the back of the net 36 times in 55 appearances for the Scottish champions and his former team-mate Steven Naismith was sorry to see the striker leave Ibrox.

“You don't think he's going to get on the end of balls and he ends up getting there and scoring goals out of nothing,” said Naismith. You're never going to replace a player like that.”

Jelavic has not been anything like as prolific on the international stage, scoring just twice in 17 appearances for Croatia.

The likes of Ivica Olic and former Arsenal striker Eduardo are ahead of him in the pecking order, but the Everton new boy is expected to be in Croatia's squad for the European Championship this summer.

Everton fought off competition from a host of clubs to sign Jelavic and with Louis Saha having joined Tottenham on transfer deadline day, the pressure will be on the striker to hit the ground running.

Jelavic has set his sights on firing the Toffees into Europe and if he finds his feet quickly then that may not be quite as ambitious as it sounds. Jelavic is married to Dajan and has two children. He drives an Audi A5.

FACTFILEName: Nikica JelavicPosition: StrikerClub: EvertonDOB: 27/08/1985Career Appearances: 214Career goals: 87Croatia caps: 17Croatia goals: 2Croatia debut: v Qatar inOctober 2009Moment to remember:

Scoring the winner against Old Firm rivals Celtic in extra-time in the Scottish Cup Final last year.

Moment to forget:

Failing to progress from the qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League with Rangers this season after they were beaten by Malmo.

© PA Sport, 2012, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.

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