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Benfica’s Serbian midfielder Filip Djuricic, 23, is close to signing for Manchester United and faces a summer of uncertainty.
A squad filler at Benfica and after making a bland impression on Southampton, Djuricic is on a career path that is seemingly going nowhere.
He now has the option to put his club troubles aside by taking on a lead role for Serbia at the European Under-21 Championship.
A great summer can raise its star again, but further disappointments could continue the spiral towards mediocrity.
The Balkans Cruyff
Before Ajax Djuricic, then a 16-year-old prodigy of Radnicki Obrenovac, was “expected to sign”, Manchester United scout Budimir Vujacic reported him to the Independent via Duncan White.
Vujacic has passed The best talents from Manchester United Serbia.
“We are getting more every day [Serbians] here at Manchester United, “said Djuricic per Kurir (h / t Adam Marshall at Setanta Sports).” If we do well, there will definitely be more Serbs. Serbian will soon be the official language here. “
Manchester United invited Djuricic too Old Trafford, where he rubbed shoulders with Fabio Capello, Marcel Desailly and Jose Mourinho, three top-class guests who saw the Red Devils beat Chelsea 3-0.
It’s been 10 days in England that eyes open for Djuricic when touring the Theater of Dreams.
But reality set in.
When Djuricic learned of likely problems with the work permit, which likely resulted in extended credit from Manchester United, Djuricic turned it down.
“[Manchester United] said the best solution would be to send me somewhere for a couple of years, “said Djuricic via Gordon Simpson of the Southern Daily Echo.[My family and I] decided if I have enough quality that I will come back one day. “
Djuricic also crossed out He and Ajax would have been on a collision course with another child prodigy without knowing it.
The then Odense Boldklub sports director Kim Brink helped Christian Eriksen and his family with the selection Ajax over Barcelona and Chelsea.
“We helped Christian and his family to find the right club for him”, Brink said, according to the UEFA website. “It was important to us not to stand in the way of his chance to develop even further.”
- Djuricic | Radnicki Obrenovac → Heerenveen: € 1.5m / £ 1.3m (17 years old; 2010).
- Eriksen | FROM → Ajax: € 1 million / £ 952,500 (16 years old; 2009).
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PHOTO | What a wonderful action again (Pole). How many RTs for this guy? #Djuricic #heefey @ 433LIVE http://t.co/sbMjjOsf7H
After a period of getting used to it, Djuricic flourished under then-Heerenveen manager Ron Jans.
function as a double threat, Djuricic scored 10 goals and amassed 12 assists during the 2011-12 season.
Jans, who can motivate players to perform at their best, introduces the team. Djuricic Bas Dost, Luciano Narsingh and Oussama Assaidi made life easy on the field.
Guide the ball past the players, produce concise passes and be included in the build-up of the game, which leads to potential scoring chances, Djuricic was like Johan Cruyff.
That’s why Djuricic was nicknamed the Balkan Cruyff, by Stefan Coerts at Goal.
Yes sir, Djuricic was so good.
The architect in Heerenveen’s building game, Djuricic, was central to the success of Dost, Narsingh and Assaidi.
Dost scored 32 goals, Narsingh recorded 22 assists and Assaidi scored 10 goals – all three were later upgraded to the clubs.
- Enough | Heerenveen → Wolfsburg: € 7m / £ 5.6m (23 years old; 2012).
- Narsingh | Heerenveen → PSV Eindhoven: € 4.1m / £ 3.2m (21 years old; 2012).
- as said | Heerenveen → Liverpool: € 4m / £ 3.1m (24 years old; 2012).
When Djuricic was at his best, he was equal to Eriksen.
Christian Eriksen’s numbers at Ajax http://t.co/0zDX5zFA5J
Although Eriksen has been cited as an unavoidable candidate and demonstrated incredible skill, Eriksen tended to underperform against large teams.
Eriksen had the luxury of playing for Ajax, a club with a monopoly over the Eredivisie, after winning the league title three seasons in a row.
Djuricic was just as creative and technically gifted as Eriksen, but he played for an inferior team in Heerenveen.
Where it started to go wrong
Benfica Major @BenficaMajor
Strength #Djuricic We count on your magic #CarregaBenfica #BenficaMaior http://t.co/jCoA78FsOT
Liverpool and Manchester United were in the running to sign Djuricic, pro Jure Bohoric at Sky Sports.
Djuricic chose Benfica, a club that was a stepping stone for greats like Angel Di Maria, Axel Witsel, David Luiz, Enzo Perez, Fabio Coentrao, Jan Oblak, Lazar Markovic, Nemanja Matic, Ramires and Rodrigo Moreno.
These success stories cover up the broken dreams of prospects like Alipio Duarte, Blaz Brezovacki, Dalibor Stojanovic, Franco Jara, Freddy Adu, Kaz Patafta, Nicolas Canales, Roger Galera, Sydney and Yu Dabao.
Add to Djuricic on this list.
The then Benfica manager Jorge Jesus kept Djuricic sat on the bench 23 times in the 2013/14 season, which sent a clear message: “You are not wanted here.”
Benfica stuff @Benficastuff
Filip Djuricic and Benfica coach Jorge Jesus. http://t.co/kw9Jy2X871
Arrived in Mainz on loan, Djuricic was discouraged by the intensity of the Bundesliga.
He could neither score nor one goal in 11 games in 477 minutes, which led to an outspoken assessment of the then Mainz manager Kasper Hjulmand.
“You should always keep working in the Bundesliga” Hjulmand said by kicker (h / t Adam Bate at Sky Sports). “[Djuricic] has to learn that more speed and more power are needed here. “
It wasn’t the quality, rather Djuricic’s inability to fully devote himself Mainz.
He played at his own pace instead of what Hjulmand wanted.
It was the antithesis of how Djuricic acted off the ball in Heerenveen, according to Scouting Network (via Wyscout): “He worked hard to chase the ball and put pressure on the defenders.”
Even if Djuricic had stayed at Mainz, he would probably have been demoted by Hjulmand’s successor Martin Schmidt, who rates attacking midfielder Yunus Malli highly.
Malli scored six goals, provided four assists and provided a spark Mainz team, which was often too dependent on Johannes Geis’ profound style of play.
“I am sure that I can take the next step in the club and under coach Martin Schmidt,” said Malli when the contract was extended until 2018 on the Mainz website. “I’m happy that my future is clear and I’m looking forward to a successful future.”
Djuricic’s future is unclear.
He did not qualify for table football Bundesliga player ranking, but his rating theoretically put him in 185th place.
Southampton FC @SouthamptonFC
NEWS: Here is the full story of #SaintsFC’s # Deadlineday loan switch for Filip Djuričić from Serbia – http://t.co/OvuljkX4VE http://t.co/VoT1ezTiB1
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, who saved Graziano Pelle’s career, believed a Premier League loan could revive it Djuric.
“The interest was great [Djuricic] when he was in Heerenveen “, Koeman said by Southampton’s website. “He was in a difficult situation, he was on loan at Mainz and we will take him on loan for the rest of the season.”
The “difficult situation” was Koeman in relation to Jesus’ pragmatic approach Benfica, the root of Djuricic’s lack of conviction over the past two seasons.
“It’s physical soccer in Portugal and [Djuricic] is more technical “, Koeman said by Southampton’s website. “I think it’s better for him to play on a team like Southampton because our kind of football is the best for” [him]. “
In the meantime, Eriksen found his team in Tottenham Hotspur, and he can build on that.
Djuricic is still lost.
|2014/15 Premier League||Eriksen||Djuricic|
|Goals / Games||10/38||0/9|
|Shots per goal||9.7||0|
|Key passes per 90||2.4||1.4|
|Passes per 90||56.6||42.1|
|Successfully passed %||82||76.5|
Southampton FC @SouthamptonFC
MATCHDAY MAGAZINE: Here is the cover of Saturday’s SAINTS issue with Filip Djuričić. #saintsfc http://t.co/9sZoT2FKYes
Two transfers, two results
- Eriksen | Ajax → Tottenham Hotspur: 13.5 million euros / 11.5 million pounds (21 years; 2013).
- Djuricic | Heerenveen → Benfica: € 8m / £ 6.9m (21 years old; 2013).
Before their careers split, Eriksen-Djuricic could have been another Ryan Babel-Luis Suarez situation.
Babel, a highly regarded Ajax cash cow, is overshadowed Suarez, a rising star in Groningen.
managed by jans, Suarez eventually became the true world-class footballer while Babel is just talk and not action.
“There are players who have played maybe 15 years but you forget them a year after they’re gone. They’re nothing special,” Jans said, according to the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson. “[Suarez] is different. We have a special player here. There are not many [like him]. “
Djuricic swings in the direction Babel.
After Heerenveen, Djuricic proves he’s nothing special, but there is another opportunity for him.
Without UEFA’s contradicting statutes – it’s illogical for a 23-year-old to be able to take part in an Under-21 tournament –Djuricic would be in his offseason and might wonder what went wrong.
An impressive performance at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship could make the kick start easier Djuricic’s comeback next season.
If not provided, statistics via WhoScored.com.