Croatia could lose one of their most promising midfielders after it emerged that Kosovo is trying to recruit 21-year-old Veldon Hodža. His agent Danko Đikić reported contact from the Kosovan Football Federation on Saturday, with Kosovo’s manager Bajram Shala confirming interest shortly after.
Croatian-born Hodža has Kosovan ties but has represented the Croatian national team at the u17, u18, u19, and u21 levels. He currently plays with top-flight Croatian side HNK Rijeka and is coming off a strong season where he established himself in the starting eleven, starting 30 matches and scoring his first goal with the club. Previously, he had a stint with NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac, who he joined from Rijeka.
While Croatia has a star-studded midfield — including Luka Modrić and Marcelo Brozović — it was assumed that Hodža would move up to the senior team within a few years. With Kosovo, however, Hodža would immediately slot into the senior team, adding a much-needed midfield presence.
It’s a unique choice for the Rijeka midfielder. He has the choice of either joining up with an emerging national team and immediately becoming a key figure, or waiting to earn his first cap with a country that has recorded two consecutive podium finishes at the World Cup.
Kosovo currently is ranked 111th in the world by FIFA, a significant improvement from its first ranking in 2016 when the UEFA side was ranked 165th. While they have yet to participate in a major international tournament, they have continued to improve and have been a relatively strong squad.
However, they have missed out on quite a few promising dual nationals that could have taken them to the next level — recently forwards Andi Zeqiri and Agon Sadiku even agreed to represent Kosovo before switching. Kosovo doesn’t intend to miss out on Hodža, too.
Image courtesy of https://nk-rijeka.hr.