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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.
 

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LOL at the title. :)

I guess that that particular part of Europe is a hot bed for talent at the moment.
After war, economic and political problems a lot of young kids grew up playing football instead of xBox and football is a viable means to escape a life of unemployment and crime.

I hope Martin Ferguson flies there often, because if these kids get anywhere near the standard of Nemanjaa Vidic, they'll be a good investment.
 

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Sounds exciting for the Serbs.

But its a great story. As RFR touched said, theres been war, economic and political problems, there looks to be finally a positive light at the end of the tunnel for the Serbs, at least in Sporting terms.

We may well see a great Serb influx of talent throughout the major European footballing countries.
 

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setanta

Filip Djuricic has warned of a Serbian invasion at Manchester United after joining the Premier League champions on trial.

The Radnicki Obfrenovac youngster saw the 3-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday and is training under the watchful gaze of reserve team coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With Nemanja Vidic, Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic already signed up, United are harvesting their Balkan contacts impressively.

"Every day, there are more of us here at United," the 16-year-old playmaker told Kurir.

"If we will do well, definitely more Serbs will come to United. Serbian will soon be the official language here!

"Manchester United do not call a player without a reason. People in the club told me not to talk with the press about my stay in Manchester and especially not to mention the conversations."

Djuricic enjoyed watching the win at Old Trafford at the weekend and picked out two individuals from the United side.

"I was surprised to see Jose Mourinho in front of me," he exclaimed. "At half time, I saw Fabio Capello, Marcel Desailly and many others who I recently watched on TV.

"I was amazed by Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I came here with Mr [Budimir] Vujacic [United's scout] and saw Tosic and Vidic. I trained with the second team."

The teenager's father has confirmed that his son is working under Solskjaer with his stint in Manchester due to last until January 18.

"I know Filip will keep his feet on the ground," he said to Sport Serbia. "He will train one or two times per day and yesterday he trained under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer."

If United to decide to push ahead with a deal, they would loan him back to Radnicki or even out to feeder club Royal Antwerp.
 

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Well, I hope this scout is worth his salary. If he's the same one that first spotted Vidic then we grounds for optimism.

The way, I see it Tosic has a lot of work to do in the gymn and in his mind, if he wants to cut it. He has to look at nani and decide not to go down that root. He has to do the things he can do well and play for the team.

Ljajic seems to be the bigger talent and at 17 probably will develope far greater than Tosic.

I don't care if we have 5 or 6 Serbian players in the squad. If they work as hard as Vidic - and given their economic background and recent history, they might not be opposed to a bit of hard work.

Also, they have such a strong sense of National pride. It comes out in almost every interview. They know they represent their country and don't want to let their country down.

This could be the deciding factor in whether they make it at OT or not.
 

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christianoharleiro said:
I agree RFR, but wasn't it Queiroz who spotted Vidic? or one of Queiroz' contacts or something?
can't recall having read that. Could be........ although it was also one of Queiroz contacts that spotted manucho.... ;)
 

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RedForceRising said:
can't recall having read that. Could be........ although it was also one of Queiroz contacts that spotted manucho.... ;)
good point :p think thats why carlos is a coach and not a scout ;) ! tbh if they have any impact like vidic has done than there going to be very very good players for us
 

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Bring on the Serbs as far as I'm concerned. Most clubs have large contingents from a particular foreign land:

Real Madrid= Holland
Liverpool= Spain's reserve team
Arsenal= France
Chelsea= Portugal/Brazil, or so it has been with Scolari and the Special One.
 

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piazza said:
Bring on the Serbs as far as I'm concerned. Most clubs have large contingents from a particular foreign land:

Real Madrid= Holland
Liverpool= Spain's reserve team
Arsenal= France
Chelsea= Portugal/Brazil, or so it has been with Scolari and the Special One.
man city=all over the world depending whos the best in fifa football manager championship manager etc etc ;)

seriously though looks like were devloping quitte the link with not just serbia but brazil too and some of the brighest young talent are coming through these countries imo
 
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