RANGERS target Nikola Katic could be the biggest Croatian talent to come out of Split since Luka Modric, according to his former manager.

Steven Gerrard landed the Slaven Belupo defender on a four-year deal, ahead of Russia giants Spartak Moscow.

Katic has already been capped by Croatia at the age of 21 and was widely praised after a superb season for the minnows, who play in a tiny 4,000-capacity stadium, but finished seventh this term in the Croatian top flight.

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And he’s been compared to Real Madrid superstar and Croatian captain Modric because both he and Katic were rejected by local club Hadjuk Split after a trial.

The manager of Neretvanac – Katic’s first club – Damir Vucic said: “Nikola came to our club as a 17-year-old and he almost immediately got a chance in our first team.

“It was clear even then he would be a good player. To play with men at that age was not a problem for him. He showed no fear.

“No situation would panic him. He was assured and he was mentally strong.

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“We were in the Third Division and Nikola had already had an offer from Hadjuk Split to play with their B team after a trial.

“Perhaps they have made just as big a mistake this time as when Luka Modric was rejected by them.

“It’s proof that sometimes players can develop with a small club.”