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Tosic is just one of Serbia's growing arsenal of young guns
Manchester United may be about to sign Zoran Tosic but the winger is far from the only exciting Serbian prospect

There may be huge problems in Serbian football – corruption, declining attendances, crumbling infrastructure – yet, the future is not one of them because it's here that arguably the greatest wealth of young talent in Europe lies. It's no surprise that Manchester United came here looking for new talent and it's no surprise that they'll leave with some too as it seems likely they'll sign Partizan winger Zoran Tosic in January. And while youthful promise is no guarantee of future success, of course, there is such a wealth of resources in Serbia that it is hard to believe at least some of this raw talent won't shine on a bigger stage.

Much of the potential can be found in the country's impressive Under-21 side but it's a team that has been shorn of one of its best players. However the only reason that Tosic, though 21, is not terrifying full-backs at that level is that he has already played 12 times at senior level, something that has no doubt made him more attractive to United's scouts.

Friends report that he has a flight booked to London on December 12, after being granted a work permit, presumably for talks on personal terms but given he has a Manchester United flag and scarf pinned to the bedroom wall of his house in Zrenjanin, they are unlikely to prove much of a stumbling block.

Of more concern is his physique. The Premier League may be becoming more welcoming to the slight – witness the arrivals this summer of Luka Modric, Samir Nasri, Carlos Villanueva and Deco – but by any standard Tosic is small, standing at just 5ft 7in, and far from stocky. His nickname of "Bambi" may relate to the Disney biscuits his mother used to give him as a boy, but it has stuck because the spindliness of his legs make it seem appropriate. He is, though, lightning quick, technically gifted, and strikes a dead-ball with such precision that he has drawn comparison with Sinisa Mihajlovic (the early model, when he was a dashing winger, rather than the crotchety defender of later years).

"It's natural people make the comparison," Mihajlovic said. "I honestly hope that he will be better than me, but it won't be easy. He'll have to eat a lot of beans to get there, but looking at where he is now, I'd say he's on the way. I've had the chance to see him in national team games, and I can assure you he has a brilliant left foot."

If Tosic becomes part of United's first-team plans immediately, that may increase the pressure on Carlos Tevez, but it seems more likely that Tosic is seen as a long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs, and thus represents more direct competition for Nani.

But, good though he is, Tosic is far from being Serbia's only highly-promising youngster – a fact known by Chelsea who have already picked up two Serbian defenders, Slobodan Rajkovic, currently on loan at FC Twente, and Branko Ivanovic.

The focus is being directed chiefly at Serbia's Under-21 side, whose qualification for next summer's European Championship, the draw for which is made tomorrow, was achieved in imposing style. They may only have finished joint-top of their group with Belarus, but they took four points off them, and avenged their only defeat – away in Budapest – by beating Hungary 8-0 in Belgrade. Hertha Berlin's Gojko Kacar, nominally a holding midfielder, scored five in that game, while the Ajax forward Miralem Sulejmani capped an exceptional performance by converting two penalties. Filip Djordjevic, who has averaged a goal every three games since joining Nantes, offers a more physical threat up front, while a number of clubs have cast admiring glances at Vojvodina's Dusan Tadic.

But, if anything, the Under-19s have been even more exciting. They went to Northern Ireland for last month's European Championship qualifying series with a great reputation, and enhanced it. Putting three past Northern Ireland and five past Albania is one thing, but facing England in a decider and beating them 4-1 is something else.

Jack Rodwell and Victor Moses, who have first-team experience for Everton and Crystal Palace, and Arsenal's highly-rated Henri Lansbury all played in that game, but they were comprehensively outplayed. The Vojvodina forward Danijel Aleksic - whose mother fled the Croatian city of Pula, where he was born, in the early days of the war - is only 17 but effectively ran that game, and would have been an undisputed man of the match if it hadn't been for the equally stunning performance of Adem Ljajic, a sumptuously gifted attacking midfielder. Ljajic himself is only 17 and, nicknamed the Little Kaka, is reported to be another of interest to Manchester United – though they face competition for his signature from Real Madrid.

The worry, as it must always be with young players, is whether Tosic and, more particularly, Ljajic, are moving too soon for their own good. Certainly Ivan Golac, who played for Southampton and Partizan before managing Dundee United, believes so. "I don't know of any Serbian player so young who has been a success in such a famous club," he said (although Dejan Stankovic was only 19 when he joined Lazio). "Many of our players rush to sign and then disappear. I think United have a plan to do the same as Chelsea did with young Rajkovic, and loan them out. Tosic and Ljajic will probably end up at other clubs as well. I'm afraid we lose Ljajic and Tosic as they move from club to club."

Rajkovic, it must be said, did not help his own cause by spitting at a referee during a miserable Olympic campaign and was only last week given clearance to resume his career at Twente after Fifa decided that the year-long ban it had imposed did not apply to domestic matches. It is debatable, anyway, whether he has been lost, given he managed 13 appearances on loan at PSV Eindhoven last season, five of them from the start. For somebody who was only 18, that seems a fairly reasonable workload.

Even if he doesn't develop, though, the prevalence of Serbian youngsters at top clubs is astonishing. Make no mistake: the Serbs are coming.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2008/dec/02/zoran-tosic-adem-ljalic-serbia-manchester-united
 

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Nice article Vidic15 :thumbsup: I knew Jonathan Wilson wrote it when I saw that it was from the Guardian.

Here is a little more detail about some of the best Serb talents you might hear about. A few of these guys will play in the upcoming U21 finals so if you're interested in seeing them, that's a good opportunity.

Miralem Sulejmani (19 years old - Ajax) - Won Dutch Football talent of the year award last year and broke the Dutch transfer record when Ajax signed him for $16.25M euros from Heerenveen. Can play all attacking positions (support striker, winger, attacking mid). Good at taking his man one-on-one, strong finisher, and very quick. Struggled with injuries this year but is finally healthy.

Slobodan Rajkovic
(19 years old - Twente on loan from Chelsea) - broke the world transfer record for a player younger than 18 when Chelsea signed him from OFK Belgrade 3 years ago. Strong, physical defender who has drawn comparisons to Nemanja Vidic but was suspended from football for a few months over an alleged spitting incident with a referee.

Zdravko Kuzmanovic
(21 years old - Fiorentina) - one of the better young talents in Serie A last year as he established himself at Fiorentina. A talented, versatile midfielder good in possession who has been an important member of the NT since 19.

Zoran Tosic (21 years old - Partizan soon to ManU) - a young winger who has progressed rapidly the last year. He is great at taking set pieces, a clever dribbler, and quick with the ball. Will be joining Manchester in January.

Gojko Kacar (21 years old - Hertha) - strong box to box player who can play virtually every position on the field. Started as a CB then was moved to forward and became one of the leading scorers in the Serbian league. At Hertha he's primarily a defensive midfielder who is also capable of scoring. Put 5 goals past Hungary in a U21 qualifier.

Danijel Aleksic (17 years old - Vojvodina) - the youngest player ever to debut in the Serbian league. Leading goalscorer in U17 European competition last year. Has all the qualities you'd like to see in a forward. Very exciting prospect.

Adem Ljajic (17 years old - Partizan) - a teammate of Aleksic who has received attention from the biggest clubs including ManU and Real Madrid. An attacking midfielder with a wide range of talents who is frequently compared to Kaka.


Maybe a little too old to be considered talents but still have a bright future:

Branislav Ivanovic
(24 years old - Chelsea) - Starting to establish himself at Chelsea with some strong performances filling in for injured Carvalho. A classy defender equally good at CB and RB. Excellent nose for goal when receiving set pieces.

Milos Krasic (24 years old - CSKA Moscow) - A great winger who has become one of the best midfielders in the Russian league. Has been incredible for the NT the last few games and is finally living up to the potential many Serbs saw in him. Great dribbler who has improved his crossing and shot tremendously.

There's a few others who deserve some mention but I'd say those are the most prominent young players at the moment. If even a few live up to their potential, it's good news for Serbian football.
 

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Sulejmani is a decent player although in my opinion, he was brought for too high a price. great in one on one situations, technically good and quick, I don't rate his finishing too highly and he seems a very unfit greedy player in my eyes.

Saw Rajkovic at the Olympics and he looked decent. Solid defensively but looks like a hell of a lot of aspects of his game need to improve quickly to justifie his price tag.

Kuzmanovic is a favourite player of mine. He knows how to use his body really well and win tackles in the centre of the park. He is also very clever and classy on the ball. He reads the game well, stays calm on the ball and picks out good passes. Good player.

I saw Tosic at the olympics as well and I was very impressed. Really quick winger who knows how to beat his man and can whip in lovely crosses. His left foot allround seems really good although he needs to improve technicaly I think. Lovely player to watch and really caught my eye still, and his only areas of improvement mainly lie in his tactical brain which Sir Alex will help with.

Kacar looks very good. Very good defensively and very hardworking, and agressive but he is also very classy. He is technically very good and he really knows how to move in the midfield. His passing was very impressive although I feel he needs to curb his enthusiasm to constantly get forward.

Ivanovic looks like he is never going to be a Chelsea regular. Solid defensively, quick, he just seems to be too poor on the ball to be an attacking rightback.

Seen Krasic play a few times and always thought he wasn't nothing special. He is very very quick and knows how to use his speed but he is technically not very good. I was surprised to hear Sir Alex was interested in him as he hasn't ever impressed me.
 

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Sulejmani is a decent player although in my opinion, he was brought for too high a price. great in one on one situations, technically good and quick, I don't rate his finishing too highly and he seems a very unfit greedy player in my eyes.
Ajax overpaid, but that's the way things stand these days.

Why does he seem greedy? The only problem as I see it is his current physical state that's normal for a 19-year old, but that'll most likely improve in the coming years and then he'll also avoid the number of injuries he's had so far.

His finishing can definitely improve and I'm seeing signs of it already.

Saw Rajkovic at the Olympics and he looked decent. Solid defensively but looks like a hell of a lot of aspects of his game need to improve quickly to justifie his price tag.
He's slow, that's unfortunately a big disadvantage for him, but excellent in the air, rather good position-wise (even though that can improve) and he needs to grow as a person.

Kuzmanovic is a favourite player of mine. He knows how to use his body really well and win tackles in the centre of the park. He is also very clever and classy on the ball. He reads the game well, stays calm on the ball and picks out good passes. Good player.
Kuz has to take more risks in his game, that's the difference between a talent and a really good player. He's got the time to improve as he's only 21 years old. I also think he has to let the game flow a lot more.

I saw Tosic at the olympics as well and I was very impressed. Really quick winger who knows how to beat his man and can whip in lovely crosses. His left foot allround seems really good although he needs to improve technicaly I think. Lovely player to watch and really caught my eye still, and his only areas of improvement mainly lie in his tactical brain which Sir Alex will help with.
He's still too light and needs to improve in that aspect, though I think it doesn't have to be extraordinary because his pace is what makes him the player he actually is. He also needs to be more consistent, but it's normal for young players to be this way.

Kacar looks very good. Very good defensively and very hardworking, and agressive but he is also very classy. He is technically very good and he really knows how to move in the midfield. His passing was very impressive although I feel he needs to curb his enthusiasm to constantly get forward.
This is the way things are in Bundesliga, players are often told to go forward even though they're defensive midfielders. They like attacking football and that's what Gojko is bringing them. Hertha are playing with one attacker, two wingers and a supporting striker in-between them, so they need more than four people to join the attack and that's why you often see him join the rush. He should be playing as a attacking midfielder in my oppinion, but the really great thing about him is that he's able to play in every position on the field and most important of all, he does what he's supposed to, but also scores plenty of goals.

Ivanovic looks like he is never going to be a Chelsea regular. Solid defensively, quick, he just seems to be too poor on the ball to be an attacking rightback.
He's a versatile defender, Bane can play as a RB, CB, even as a LB or DM if that's needed. Chelsea haven't really played with attacking fullbacks in the past, it was introduced when Scolari came and you can already see major improvements in this aspect. He's been doing very well for Serbia on that position. Chelsea see him mainly as a CB.

Bane is excellent in the air, unfortunately that's something that you don't see too often because of Chelsea poor set-pieces. He's dominating this department with Serbia and has already scored two goals from set-pieces through headers in the World Cup Qualifier. I think he's got more potential than Vidić, unfortunately people who don't follow Serbia aren't able to see that as Scolari always plays either Alex, Carvalho or Terry.

Give him a good run of games in the EPL and you'll definitely see how classy he is.

Seen Krasic play a few times and always thought he wasn't nothing special. He is very very quick and knows how to use his speed but he is technically not very good. I was surprised to hear Sir Alex was interested in him as he hasn't ever impressed me.
He depends a lot on his pace and yes, I do think he has to improve technically with the ball when taking on his opponents. Go and watch Serbias recent games in the Qualifiers and especially the friendly against Bulgaria where he tore them apart. Krasić has a fantastic shot as well.
 

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Thanks for the detailed post Tosic, I have learnt a lot. I disagree on Sulejmani. He does what many quality young dribblers do which is to dribble to goal even when better options are present. He also seems very unfit to me, is he?
 

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No worries, how do you mean unfit? It's not like he's fat or anything, he just needs to build on himself because he's too light at the moment. This is something that will make him less injury-prone as well, because he's been injured since he picked up a injury against Sparta Rotterdam last season.
 

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I think Serbia will qualify for the World Cup, in fact I'll be shocked if they don't, and I believe they will be more consistent in qualifying in the future.

But I can say with absolute safety, Serbia nor Croatia will ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever win a World Cup or European Championship, at least in my lifetime because of the Balkan mentality. I won't even mention the other teams in the region, mostly BiH who have a nice attack, but their defense is at a HNL level.

As soon as these teams get any sort of praise or attention they shit the bed. Look at the last tournaments for each team. Prior to the WC 2006 all I heard about was the fantastic 4 (or whatever they were officially named, I have my own name for them :D ) and although they never were intact and the group was difficult, they still embrassed themselves and showed no heart.

Croatia are no better, they breeze through the group stage at Euro 2008 and beat Germany, then they get all this attention and praise and they shit the bed against an average, undermanned Turkey squad.

Though as I said before, Serbia will be in South Africa in two years and they will qualify for more tournaments, but they will never win anything. It will be similar to the way their youth teams are currently, always qualify, make the knockout rounds but never quite do it in the finals
 

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I think Serbia will qualify for the World Cup, in fact I'll be shocked if they don't, and I believe they will be more consistent in qualifying in the future.

But I can say with absolute safety, Serbia nor Croatia will ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever win a World Cup or European Championship, at least in my lifetime because of the Balkan mentality. I won't even mention the other teams in the region, mostly BiH who have a nice attack, but their defense is at a HNL level.

As soon as these teams get any sort of praise or attention they shit the bed. Look at the last tournaments for each team. Prior to the WC 2006 all I heard about was the fantastic 4 (or whatever they were officially named, I have my own name for them :D ) and although they never were intact and the group was difficult, they still embrassed themselves and showed no heart.

Croatia are no better, they breeze through the group stage at Euro 2008 and beat Germany, then they get all this attention and praise and they shit the bed against an average, undermanned Turkey squad.

Though as I said before, Serbia will be in South Africa in two years and they will qualify for more tournaments, but they will never win anything. It will be similar to the way their youth teams are currently, always qualify, make the knockout rounds but never quite do it in the finals
How can the "fantastic 4" embarrass themselves, when u admitted yourself that they never played together during the world cup... you are contradicting yourself.

as for not making the knockout rounds. Look at are last 3 U21 appearances. 2 Runner ups and a Semi Finals spot.
 

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what I'm saying is they were getting praised even when they weren't all there. The world media were still talking about the fantastic four only a few days before Serbia's game against Netherlands. And I'm sure they players themselves went in with the same attitude/mentality.

For the second point, you didn;t understand, I said at the junior levels you always make the knockout round then don't show up in the finals/semi-finals. At the senior level it will be the same way

Once again, the Balkan mentality will hurt these countries for some generations, thats why the diaspora are important, but then when I look at some Croatian diaspora players I see they will have that Balkan mentality as well :howler: (Rakitic)
 

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Wow HS with some positive comments. It's a pleasant surprise :)

I diagree re Krasic though, he's technically gifted, his problem was always that he played with his head down too much. This seems to be changing recently though.
 

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actually Croatia and Serbia tend to rise up against biger opponents, its just that they crumble in pressure situations and against 'minnows', it's that Balkan mentality which you don't know about :D

Russians got the Russian mentality, you know being lazy, once Hiddink leaves the Ruski's will revert to their old habits :pp
 

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Yeah that's what's really promising currently, we're hammering sides that we should beat and if we continue the trend and play like we usually do against the tougher nations then we'll definitely be on course to qualify.

The Under 21 side we've had since 2002/2003 has been brilliant, so many players coming through, and quite a few that have came through...Vidic (played a few games), Ivanovic, Stojkovic, Krasic, Jankovic, Lazovic and now the likes of Tosic, Kolarov and Rajkovic. It's about producing a couple of very good players of international quality in each generation and once you do that and have a good coach you can make an impact.

We might not win a major championship but I think with the current climate that football is in, providing we continue producing talent and playing like we are currently then we have an opportunity of not only qualifying for tournaments but to make at least the knockout stages.
 

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The talent's great but the Serbia ( Yugo/SCG) sides from the late 90's early 2000's play more attractive football. Hopefully Serbia returns to their traditional style of play.
 

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We've started playing some good stuff again, Antic is a coach who has always had an attacking mentality so I expect this to continue.
 

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well, Milosevic said that's the problem with Serbia (he had an interview in one of the Cro papers), Serbia too often try to play too cute and too fancy, with Antic they are more disciplined and better tactical.
 
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