The ‘summer’ window may have only recently closed, but with January fast approaching already, them good ol’ transfer stories just keep on coming.
Oh yes! And it’s Manchester City who are closing in on their first signing of the winter window. The Sky Blues are on the verge of completing the signing of Partizan winger Filip Stevanovic, who has been linked with just about every top European club.
Mozzart Sport report that the 18-year-old was seen carrying out the first part of his medical on Friday ahead of a move to City and once this is completed, he will sign a four and a half year deal. The Citizens could pay as much as €8m for his services. But as part of the agreement, Stevanovic will likely stay put at Partizan for the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign.
Now, unless you enjoy your weekly dose of Serbian football, you my not know too much about the talented teenager. But fear not, because we at 90min have you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about Stevanovic…
Well, we just simply couldn’t start anywhere else, could we?
Rather suddenly, Manchester United were said to have agreed a deal to sign Stevanovic back in August, with the Red Devils reaching a similar agreement with Partizan to the one City have managed.
Except…United were said to have agreed to pay around €12m for his services. However, the report stated that he would remain at Partizan for the season.
Stevanovic very much played his part in fuelling speculation that he would be heading to Old Trafford, taking to social media to post some not-so-subtle hints that he was indeed on his way to United.
Notably, as talk of an agreement with the Red Devils increased, Stevanovic posted a picture of himself playing for Partizan against United at Old Trafford during their Europa League clash in 2019/20. The Serbian even decided to go one further to ensure fans recognised exactly what he was trying to do by tagging ‘Old Trafford’ as his location.
Oh, and the caption? An eye rolling emoji.
Yeah, it was pretty obvious.
The youngster has since removed this point even though he will eventually be making the switch to Manchester…just, for the blue half.
Sure, Stevanovic may have only turned 18 last month, but this is already his third season in senior football.
He was a key player for Partizan during the 2019/20 campaign, making 35 appearances in all competitions. Despite the fact he started just 19 of these games, the forward still managed nine goals and three assists. Stevanovic operated mainly as a left-winger last term, but was also deployed as an attacking midfielder and a right-winger at points as well.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic saw football (and the world) brought to a standstill, but when play in Serbia did get back underway, Stevanovic took his game to new heights. In the four league games after the restart, he netted three times.
Again, he only just turned 18.
He has carried that fine form into the 2020/21 season as well, and already has three goals and two assists in all competitions so far.
Oh, and last time out, he scored the opener in the Eternal Derby.
Already a crucial player for Partizan, it isn’t a surprise to see them fighting to keep hold of him, at least until the end of the current season.
Whether it’s Bojan being labelled the next Lionel Messi, or Hachim Mastour being the next Zinedine Zidane, the footballing world loves a needless comparison.
Well, we have another.
Stevanovic’s pace, skill, direct running and finishing ability have seen him likened to none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. Equally, the Serbian’s style of plays also means he is capable of operating anywhere across the front line – something the Portuguese star was very capable of in the earlier parts of his career.
As a fearless attacker, Stevanovic is constantly looks to commit his man and this is exactly what he specialises in. The teenager is always playing with his head up, knowing when to pass and when to run. Stevanovic thrives in one-on-one situations, with defenders often left embarrassed as he darts away from them.
This sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it?
Indeed, Ronaldo – especially in his younger days – has similar characteristics and a similar playing style. But let’s be honest, the Juventus forward is up there with the very best of all time and it wouldn’t be fair on either player to compare them at this moment in time.
But again, sometimes, the footballing community just can’t help but give a talented youngster a label. Just ask Brazilian Talles Magno, who has been given the ‘new Neymar’ tag.
Stevanovic himself, however, admitted in 2019 that comparisons to Ronaldo are slightly off, even if he is a role model to him with regards to how the former Man Utd man goes about about his training.
He told Mondo in January 2019: “He [Ronaldo] is not among my first favourites, but he is my role model when it comes to work and goals. I don’t like to praise myself, because I think others should do it, but I like dribbling the most. Dribbling is perhaps my best characteristic as a footballer Cristiano is great, but he is not a dribbler [compared to other greats].”
Instead, Stevanovic singled out a certain Brazilian magician as his idol, adding: “Ronaldinho was magical, special. Of course, I wouldn’t mind being like Messi or Neymar, but Ronaldinho had some magic, power. Incredible ball control, he did something that no one could, that no one even thought of.”
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Stevanovic is that he is already a very complete attacking player.
While he prefers to play through the centre, he has all the attributes to be a real threat on either flank as well. It is his mix of technical ability as well as pace that makes him such a difficult opponent to play against. Indeed, he has already proven his ability on the European stage, putting in impressive showings against Man Utd in 2019/20 in the Europa League despite only coming on as a substitute.
Sure, he isn’t exactly imposing at the moment, but still only 18, he will have plenty of time to improve his physique.
For a player of Stevanovic’s quality and potential, it doesn’t really come as much of a surprise to hear that pretty much every top club in Europe was after him.
And even though it appeared as though local rivals Man Utd would secure his signature, City are seemingly close to finalising a deal for Stevanovic. Indeed, Mozzart’s report states that the Sky Blues have been following his progression closely for a long time, with scouts going to watch him even before he made his senior debut in December 2018.
In fact, the Citizens have been to watch Stevanovic in action at least four times within the last two years. But it was his excellent display in the Eternal Derby recently which convinced the Premier League outfit to finalise a deal for him.
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