Last night I decided to have a late one, there was a fight going on in America that I was quite interested in so I decided to stay up and watch it.
Around 12 I began getting messages on my phone, Facebook etc that Manchester United had pulled out of a deal to sign Adem Ljajic. The news first broke around 10 but by 12 numerous news outlets had decided to run with the story despite having no confirmation from either Manchester United or FK Partizan.
Ljajic, known as ‘Little Kaka’, was signed in January along with Zoran Tosic but due to regulations that prevent English clubs signing under 18s from non EU countries, Ljajic remained at Partizan Belgrade to continue his development whilst Tosic joined straight away.
Tosic was immediately drafted into the reserves where it was hoped that the slight of frame Serb would learn how to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. Yet apart from sporadic appearances in the Carling Cup, Tosic has not made the jump to the first team as expected, even with the poor performances from Portuguese winger Nani.
But Ljajic’s case is even more interesting. United had supposedly been paying his wages since January, had frequently flown the young starlet out to Manchester to train with the United first team and only a few weeks ago, Ferguson himself said,
“Given all the talk about him and the fact he plays for Serbia’s Under 21s even though he’s only 18, we hope we will be granted the permit. I am looking forward to seeing him,”
So when Manchester United themselves confirmed the deal was off this morning it was rather suspicious. The official line from the club was,
“We had an option to buy the player but, having closely monitored his development over past 12 months, and taken into the consideration the young players emerging through the ranks, we have chosen not to pursue the transfer.”
This would mean United did not in fact sign Ljajic as initially thought, instead the deal was for first refusal, but what has happened in the past month to make United renege on the deal?
Gabriel Obertan has come along leaps and bounds and he could very well be one of the young players that were being referred to in the United statement. After missing the start of the season with a back injury the young French man has exploded onto the scene. Maybe the United coaches have seen something in Obertan and he has turned out a lot better than expected, thus this is a small form of consolation.
Another idea that is circulating is that United are in some form of financial problems, Partizan president Dragan Djuric said:
“Maybe the real problem is that they are in financial crisis.”
But United have dismissed this claiming the £10m they would have paid for Ljajic was already budgeted for in this financial year and that Djuric is attempting to protect Ljajic’s sale value.
Ferguson has left tomorrow’s press conference to assistant Mike Phelan and maybe we can get some information out of him but whatever the case may be the situation is far from over and I’m sure both sides will have more to say.