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Look at him now: Nikola Kalinic and Blackburn Rovers

Look at him now: Nikola Kalinic and Blackburn Rovers - Look at them now

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Fiorentina, AC Milan then Atletico Madrid: the extraordinary path of former flop Nikola Kalinic from relegation fodder to the Champions League.

We often forget about players like Nikola Kalinic. You know, those familiar individuals who reinvent themselves on the European stage, seemingly emerging from nowhere, only for us to remember their decidedly forgettable pasts.

The likes of Kevin Prince Boateng, Steven N’Zonzi and Anthony Modeste, both formerly of Blackburn, for example, have all had stints at clubs who are now languishing in the lower tiers – and that is just off the top of ours heads.

“He has a terrific goalscoring record. He is only 21 and scores one goal every 1.6 games. That is why we have forked out as much money as we have,” Sam Allardyce said in 2009 (Sporting life via Goal).

Like Big Sam, however, Nikola Kalinic was doomed to fail at Blackburn.

The Croatian’s introduction into the Premier League was staggered with Allardyce admitting he was reluctant to introduce him into a relegation battle and ruin his future at the club.

“I’m still wary of the fact that if he doesn’t score then his confidence might go and never return,” he told The Sun.

“We didn’t really bring him here to be our top man this season. The aim is to bring him on slowly.”

Simply put, he was not good enough for the rough and tumble of Premier League survival, and just four appearances and one goal later, he found himself on the transfer pile – soon to be shipped out to Ukrainian side Dnipro.

A successful stint in Ukraine earned him another shot at top European football, with Fiorentina the punters, and their faith was duly repaid with the Croatian managing 33 goals in 84 games.

A short and unsuccessful loan sell at AC Milan was quickly followed by a permanent move to Atletico Madrid, who were clearly neither concerned with his petulant behaviour at the World Cup – where he was sent home prematurely by runners-up Croatia (The Guardian) – nor his evident inconsistencies in front of goal.

A warning they probably should have heeded, with Kalinic recording just two league goals in 15 appearances.

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Article title: Look at him now: Nikola Kalinic and Blackburn Rovers

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