Emir Spahic is not going to save our ungrateful asses anymore. Retired from the national team because of his age, because of Safet Susic, because of the media, whatever, it doesn’t matter. He’s gone, and we’re in trouble.
The Bayer Leverkusen centre-back was our undisputed leader on the pitch and our most experienced defender; on the rare occasion that he was substituted off early, what usually followed was a complete loss of defensive organization and confidence on the pitch. For years we simply couldn’t do without him.
To make matters worse, our only reliable left-back Sead Kolasinac (04 Schalke) is injured and ruled out for the first half of our Euro 2016 campaign. His role is currently covered by winger Senad Lulic (SS Lazio) and central midfielder Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim) but both are desperate temporary solutions that cannot last.
Our starting right-back Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg) has been struggling with injuries and at 30 years old it’s clear that his best days are behind him. His replacement is Safet Susic’s pet squirrel known as Avdija Vrsajevic, a player who boasts impressive pace and lttle else. Many want him gone from the squad, but he has managed to stick around, as Alan Moore would put it, with a “herpies like persistence”.
So, just when our backline was starting to look respectable, we lost two crucial pieces of the puzzle and are on the way to losing a third. That leaves us with the three centre-backs Bicakcic (Hoffenheim), Sunjic (Kuban Krasnodar), and Vranjes (Free Agent), and the right-back Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split).
Like I said, we’re in trouble.
It’s obvious that reinforcements are needed but there aren’t lot of options out there for us right now; certainly none as good as Spahic and Kolasinac. There is, however, a handful of defenders we should consider. If nothing else, they may improve our depth.
Gordan Bunoza (Wisla Krakow) (LB/CB)
Bunoza is a 26 year old left-back from Polish club Wisla Krakow. Not a top league by any means but Bunoza has the attributes to play at a higher level and he has been linked with moves to better leagues.
The reality is this: if Kolasinac is not available, we do not have an adequate replacement. At 6 foot 4 inches, Bunoza is a powerful player but possesses surprisingly good pace for his size; while he may not have the same quality as Kolasinac he will at least provide a similar physical presence on the left. In any case, he’s a better option than anyone we have right now.
Ivan Martic (Hellas Verona) (RB)
Martic was considered one of the best right-backs in the Swiss league and has recently moved to Serie A. He made his winning debut a few days ago in a 2-1 win over Palermo.
Much like Bunoza at left-back, Martic would provide much needed depth and competition at right-back, and may even prove himself to be first choice considering his competition is Vrsajevic and injury prone Mujdza.
Martic has said he is open to playing for Bosnia and it would be downright foolish not to offer him a chance.
Ervin Zukanovic (Chievo Verona) (CB)
Zukanovic was deeply disappointed to be cut from Bosnia’s World Cup squad but he has made it clear he would still wear the national colours if called upon in the future.
I admit, I’m not Zuka’s biggest fan, mainly because of his lack of pace, but at this point we can’t afford to be picky. He’s a loyal servant and will give us his all. There is no other CB playing in one of the top five leagues that we can call upon. If we begin to play in a more balanced formation and with tactics that actually suit our players–which we should be doing anyway–Zuka’s slow movement won’t be as big of an issue.
It is no coincidence all of our defensive players preform better at their clubs than they do in the national team; Susic insists on playing systems that expose our weaknesses instead of mitigating them.
Dino Arslanagic (Standard Liege) (CB)
The 21 year old 6’3″ centre-back is undoubtedly a big talent but has not completed the necessary paper work to play for Bosnia and he cannot be counted on yet. If our FA has any sense they will do everything in their power to make sure the promising defender’s Bosnian debut comes sooner rather than later. Our options at CB are so slim that losing Arslanagic to Belgium would be catastrophic.
Perhaps in the future, when we have found more than one good defensive midfield option, Muhamed Besic (Everton) can move back to CB, the primary position he played in Germany and Hungary. There are also others to look forward to, such as 19 year old right-back Adis Omerbasic of Schalke, and Ali Suljic, the 17 year old centre back who currently plays for the Chelsea U18s. Promising talents indeed but that’s all they are; we need solutions now, and we must look for the answer elsewhere, and fast.