Everton and Jelavic are the perfect fit, says Bilic

Croatia manager (and Everton old boy) insists striker's all-round game will surprise Liverpool

Sometimes a club and a player seem to be a perfect fit. Everton supporters had a fairly good relationship with another forward who came down from Scotland not so long ago and the player (Duncan Ferguson) ended up with the club badge tattooed on his arm and the supporters with a hero etched into their hearts.

It is too early to say for definite that Nikica Jelavic will impact so spectacularly at Goodison Park, but the signs, 10 games into his Everton career after moving, like Ferguson, from Rangers, are pretty promising.

Jelavic has scored five times in the 10 occasions that he has started for his new club, since moving to England from Scotland for £5 million at the end of the January transfer window, as the financial predicament of his old employers began to unravel.

By then he had spoken to Slaven Bilic, his international manager with Croatia, and himself a former Everton player. The recommendation to sign for David Moyes could not have been much greater.

"I speak to my players all the time and although he was happy at Rangers, he wanted to go to the Premier League," said Bilic. "He asked me about Everton, but he knew without me telling him that they are a big club and it would be a massive step up to go from playing in Scotland to the Premier League.

"On the one hand he's a model professional and so down to earth, that's how he has been brought up. But on the other hand he is so self-confident that he never has any fear. He is just a positive guy.

"It looks like it (a bargain at £5m). I read about £20m-plus transfers and in that respect his price does look like a bargain," Bilic added.

"It's great for Everton and not for the first time, looking at some others they have signed. They know the formula. It is hard to find them, even though £5m is £5m!

"He is at a great age, but his best years are still to come. I'm expecting him to improve even more – he has no limits. I think he can become one of the most important strikers in the league next season. Everton have definitely found a natural goalscorer. People asked me what I thought of him even before he signed for Everton, and I was quite sure about him.

"I've known him since he was a child almost, we are from the same town, the same club in Hadjuk Split. I watched Everton a lot even before he came and always imagined he'd suit them perfectly. OK, they have a great squad but they needed a guy who is not only a finisher – he does not need that to be playing well – but also great in other areas. He's great in the build-up play, he can hold the ball, he's just perfect for Everton's style of play.

"You need a bit of luck at the start, which he got and scored a couple of goals, and now his confidence is sky high. He never panics, he's such a cool finisher, so it doesn't surprise me how well he's doing."

And, perhaps more crucially, how will he compare to those wearing the red shirts of Kenny Dalglish's men at Wembley tomorrow?

"Compared to Liverpool? They have Luis Suarez, who is a finisher, and I think Andy Carroll will click because he is a good player," said Bilic.

"There are no favourites because it's a semi-final and also a derby, but Everton are definitely in better form than Liverpool right now.

"I don't think a player can add a new quality because he's already a top player who has everything, but he has the chance to improve now he is playing in England.

"He's training with great players, he'll be up against great ones, and his finishing, heading, creating space and technique are all going to get better. That's a lot and that will be enough.

"I am glad he signed because not only is it good for Everton and great for Nikica, it's great for the Croatian national team too."

"If you do well in the Premier League there is no doubt you are going to improve. Over the last three years he's been very important for us and will be even more so now. It's a win-win situation," added Bilic.

Jelavic factfile

Born 27 August, 1985, Capljina, Yugoslavia

Club career

2002-07 Hadjuk Split (41 games/8 gls)

2007-08 Zlute Waregem (25/3)

2008-10 Rapid Vienna (95/43)

2010-12 Rangers (55/36)

2012-present Everton (10/5)

International 18 caps for Croatia, two goals

Honours 2010/11 Scottish League, League Cup

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam