When a shaggy-haired 19-year-old trotted onto the Wembley turf as a 77th-minute substitute during Slovenia’s 2-1 friendly defeat to England in September, few in attendance were aware that they were witnessing the start of one of the most hotly anticipated international careers in Eastern European football.
Big things, though, are expected of Rene Krhin.
The elegant, technically refined central midfielder joined Internazionale from his hometown club Maribor as a 16-year-old in January 2007. After shining for their Under-17s, he made his first team debut as a substitute in the 2-0 victory over Parma on September 13 and played a key part in Inter’s delightful second goal:
Unusually his competitive club debut succeeded his international debut by eight days, but Inter coach Jose Mourinho was quick to assert that Krhin will feature regularly in the current campaign.
“In Rene Krhin I see what I expect from a 19-year old,” said Mourinho, who has given Krhin the number 15 squad number. “He is really professional with big ambitions, and I’m also very happy with his discipline and talent. He has played in Serie A, was on the bench in the Champions League and I will surely use him again this season.”
Krhin’s breakthrough has sparked rumours linking him to a host of European heavyweights, including Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, but the youngster is making the right noises when it comes to his immediate future.
“It is nice to hear that somebody is interested in you, but I really don’t know anything about Liverpool,” he said. “And beside that – I really don’t care about this kind of rumour. I leave all this to my manager Marcel Kacinari, whom I completely trust.”
Kacinari is an important figure in Krhin’s life. How many of the aforementioned rumours emanate from the man himself is unclear, but for the time being he is keen to rule out any possible moves for his client.
“Yes, he was followed by Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea. But we’ve never been in contact with a specific club,” Kacinari said earlier this month. “Our vision and ambition was always to renew his contract with Inter and we’ve responded by proving our intentions with facts.”
Napoli are the latest club to find themselves painted as would-be suitors for the former Slovenia Under-19 captain, but Krhin is reported to be on the verge of signing a new long-term contract that will commit him to the Nerazzurri until 2014.
Though on the fringes of things for both club and country, 2010 could well be the year that Krhin forces himself into first-team contention and Fabio Capello will certainly have his eyes on him in the run-up to England’s World Cup confrontation with Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on June 23.