Ex-City midfielder leaves Stoke on loan

Stoke City's Mario Vrancic during the Sky Bet Championship match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Tre

Stoke City's Mario Vrancic during the Sky Bet Championship match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent. Picture date: Saturday November 20, 2021. - Credit: PA

Former Norwich City midfielder Mario Vrancic has left Stoke City to join Croatian top-flight side HNK Rijeka on a season-long loan.

The Bosnian only has a year left on his contract, so is unlikely to play for the Potters again. He triggered a one-year contract extension determined by number of appearances this summer, but struggled for game time in the second half of last season.

Vrancic made 35 appearances in total for the Staffordshire side, registering seven assists and scoring three goals.

 He spent four years at Carrow Road between 2017 and 2021, scoring 17 times in 134 appearances and playing a part in two Championship title victories.

The 33-year-old had spells with Mainz, Borussia Dortmund, Darmstadt and Paderborn before moving to NR1, where he was known for his long-range strikes and technical ability.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said in 2019 that the six-times-capped international was "my Mario Gotze" when they were together at Mainz.

Stoke manager Michael O’Neill said: "Mario came to us and told us how appealing this move was to him and we felt that we could not stand in his way. We wish him every success for the future."

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Vrancic said: "I am very happy to be a new player of Rijeka. This is a new challenge for me, I chose Rijeka because I have a very good feeling.

"I am happy, I can't wait to meet people and start preparations. This is a new challenge for me. I was in England for five years and I was looking for something new, a new challenge. I have a good feeling."

Vrancic's former teammate Josip Drmic spent last season with Rijeka on loan from Norwich, but has now signed for Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb.

It's no surprise that the former City number eight asked the Swiss international about the possibility of joining Rijeka. 

"He told me all the best about Rijeka," Vrancic said, "and that I will enjoy it because this is a good club, with a good stadium and a good atmosphere. That's what I was looking for."