Niko Kranjcar is around four kilos lighter than last season.
In fact, the new-look midfielder is lighter all round after taking a 66 per cent wage cut to play on ‘Championship wages’, according to QPR boss Harry Redknapp.
The Croatian international lost the weight excess after a rigorous pre-season denied him by injury 12 months back, and is fully fit to face Manchester United on Sunday.
A lighter wallet is worth it to be at a club that makes him really happy. The fact Kranjcar is also avoiding civil war back in Ukraine and parent club Dynamo Kiev is an added bonus.
Rewind just three plus months, and it was a different story.
A downcast Kranjcar cut a contrast to team-mates at Wembley after he was forced out the Championship play-off victory against Derby with a hamstring tear, and out of Croatia’s World Cup reckoning.
But the 30-year-old saw it as an opportunity to take a decent break, and revealed he would have been here sooner had wage haggling not taken most of the summer.
“It was a bit of a tug of war getting out of there,” he said. “The situation in Ukraine isn’t the brightest with the conflicts, and I wasn’t happy at Dynamo even though it’s a great club. The chairman invested a lot of money. But the mentality; the training; it didn’t work out for both sides.
“I had a great contract, and it’s one of the reasons it took so long. But I’m old enough to take my sacrifices and come to a place where I’m happy. No one can buy you happiness.”
Redknapp reckons the Premier League will suit the 30-year-old better than the rough and tumble of the Championship, and the man the manager has signed four times for three different clubs doesn't disagree.
“I had an up and down last season, and when I came I was unfit with an injury pre-season in Ukraine,” Kranjcar said. “I had a great start and faded away, but my best football was in the (play-off) semi-final against Wigan.
“I know the Premiership; I spent six seasons here, and I want to prove to myself I can do it on this stage and on a regular basis.”
The midfielder knows he faces two immediate battles. Keeping himself trim, and keeping Manchester United fans quiet on Sunday.
“My weight is a story following me all my life,” he said. “It goes up and down, and it’s something I’ve dealt with throughout. When I play great it doesn’t matter how many kilos I have.
“But I have to be really careful when I eat and what I eat and I feel much better than when I came same time last year.”
Kranjcar agrees it might be a good time to play United who are yet to win, unlike Rangers, but he might have preferred it to come before the international break.
He said: “A game before would have been even better without (Radamel) Falcao coming in.
“He scorers that many goals that give him a chance around the box and it doesn’t matter how much he knows his teammates: he’s a great finisher.
“But going there with nothing to lose doesn’t mean you can accept being defeated. You will get chances, and if we disrupt their flow and rhythm I believe we can get something out of it. To answer your question, I think this is a good time to be playing United."
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