Marijan Čabraja exits Hibs as Europa Conference League foes complete transfer

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Defender joined Hibs from Dinamo Zagreb last summer

Hibs defender Marijan Čabraja has left Easter Road and returned to his native Croatia after just one season in Edinburgh. NK Rijeka, who knocked Hibs out of the Europa Conference League qualifiers in August 2021, have completed the signing of the left-back. The terms of the move are undisclosed but Hibs have included a sell-on fee as part of the deal.

The 26-year-old signed a three-year deal last summer as Lee Johnson moved to bring in another option at left-back to compete with stalwart Lewis Stevenson, but Čabraja’s father Frano passed away suddenly not long after the former Croatian youth internationalist had moved to Scotland.

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He came off the bench as a first-half substitute as Hibs drew 2-2 with Rangers just days after the funeral, revealing some weeks later that there had never been any doubt he would face the Ibrox side after a heart-to-heart chat with his brother.

Marijan Čabraja is set to leave Hibs for a return to CroatiaMarijan Čabraja is set to leave Hibs for a return to Croatia
Marijan Čabraja is set to leave Hibs for a return to Croatia

“He told me our father would want me to play,” Čabraja said. "I texted the gaffer on Friday [before the game] to say I was flying back to Edinburgh and was ready if he needed me. It wasn't a hard decision.”

Čabraja made 26 appearances in all competitions, registering one assist for Mykola Kukharevych in a 2-1 cinch Premiership defeat by Dundee United at Tannadice in April. His departure leaves Hibs with Stevenson and academy graduate Oscar MacIntyre, who turns 19 in December, as left-sided full-back options. While the teenager has had some gametime and involvement with the first-team squad, it remains to be seen if Johnson moves to bring in another defender who can cover the position.

The Hibs boss said of Čabraja’s exit: “We’d like to thank Marijan for all his hard work and dedication. This transfer works well for both of us and allows Marijan to compete back in his homeland, Croatia. We wish him all the best for the future.”

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Meanwhile, Hibs are closing in on a second season-long loan stint for Manchester United defender Will Fish after the Old Trafford side gave the go-ahead for the 20-year-old to return to Edinburgh after a successful 2022/23 campaign in which the former England youth internationalist made 21 appearances, scoring three and contributing towards six clean sheets.

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