Vlahovic, the rising star on the radar of the best europeans

Milan (AFP) – Dusan Vlahovic will spark interest across Europe during the January transfer window after an incredible 2021 for the Serbian striker where he scored 33 times in Serie A.

He currently leads the league’s “Capocannoniere” standings with 16 goals after scoring 21 times last season and has thrived under Vincenzo Italiano’s new offensive regime in Florence, which has rekindled Stadio Artemio Franchi. after years of mediocre football.

Vlahovic’s powerful physique and skillful touch resembles that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whom the 21-year-old admitted in an interview with DAZN earlier this year was the player he most admired because “everything he did, he did it on his own “.

He doesn’t even balk at comparisons to aspiring superstar Erling Haaland.

“He’s definitely faster than me, but for everything else we’re on the same level,” said the confident forward.

Over the summer, Fiorentina retained the interest of Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid while trying and failing to extend Vlahovic’s contract, which expires in the summer of 2023.

Vlahovic said it was his decision to stay in his Florence “second home” this season.

“Those of us in the Balkans tend to do things more with the heart than with the head, I wanted to stay here, it was my choice,” he told DAZN.

“I think I can grow up here, that I can go one step further, score a lot of goals and win a lot of matches.”

In October, Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso told fans in an open letter that Vlahovic had adamantly turned down a renewal that would have made him the highest-paid player in club history, meaning Fiorentina must sell now or in the summer, or risk losing one of Europe’s most wanted young players for free in 18 months.

In December, Italian-American businessman Commisso then said he “would not be held ransom” for Vlahovic, with Italian media reporting that Fiorentina wanted 80 million euros ($ 90.6 million ) to sell its biggest asset midway through the current campaign.

The 21-year-old quickly rose to fame, who went from cheering Partizan Belgrade in the stands to making his club debut less than a month after his 16th birthday in early 2016, before moving to Italy two more years. late. .

Described by his former Partizan Under-21 coach Milan Ristic as the greatest talent he has seen emerge from the former Yugoslavia, Vlahovic has also become a fixture on the Serbian national team.

He has scored seven times for a talented side that will try to reach the knockout stages of a World Cup for the first time since 1998, when next winter’s tournament in Qatar takes place.

“You can see from the way he plays that he’s someone with the right attributes… in Serbia you get those characteristics for free,” said Sinisa Mihajlovic, another Serb who made a name for himself in Italy. .

“He’s lucky to have been born where he was because you can see he’s on fire and hunger. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for my national team.

Among Vlahovic’s supporters is also former Fiorentina teammate Franck Ribéry, who saw the fiery young striker as a “little brother” during his stay in Florence.

“He’s a good guy and he has a great mentality,” said former France star Ribery, now at Salernitana.

“I’m happy for him because when he went through some difficulties we had a lot of talk over coffee about how to work and how you should behave.

Mary I. Bruner