Newcastle United snapped up their second summer signing earlier this week in the form of Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and the Serbian international’s arrival is quite a big deal up on Tyneside.
Indeed, Mitrovic has caught the eye of Chelsea and Manchester United in the past, and at £13m is actually the fourth biggest signing in the club’s history; after Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and fellow summer 2015 arrival, Georginio Wijnaldum.
However, nless you’re particularly well acquainted with the Belgian top flight or the Serbian national team you might not be too familiar with the 20-year-old.
And thus, we at Football FanCast thought it would be a good idea to give you the lowdown on the 6 foot 2 centre-forward and explain what all the fuss is about.
So here’s SIX things every Premier League fan needs to know about Mitrovic. Do you think he’ll be a successful signing for the Magpies?
Full name: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Place of Birth: Smederevo, Serbia
Height: 6 foot 2.5 inches
Preferred foot: Right
Former clubs: Teleoptik, Partizan Belgrade, Anderlecht
National Team: Serbia – 13 caps
Titles: Serbian SuperLiga 2012/13, Belgian Pro League 2013/14, Belgian Super Cup 2014, U19 European Championship 2013
Transfer fee: £13million
Contract length: Five years
Newcastle’s latest signing may only be 20 years of age but he’s been tipped for the top for some time already.
Indeed, he was named as one of Europe’s top ten young talents in a UEFA report from 2013, at the age of just 18, and in the same year claimed the Player of the Tournament award at the U19 European Championship – which Serbia won for the first time in their history after Mitrovic netted the winning goal against France in the final.
That prompted Anderlecht to snap up the 6 foot 2 front-man just a matter of days after the tournament concluded in August 2013. And it may not sound like much compared to Premier League standards, but the €5million spent to sign him from Partizan Belgrade as a teenager was the Belgian outfit’s club-record transfer fee until acquiring Steven Defour a year later.
Along with the Newcastle support, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is also a big fan of Mitrovic – which has prompted plenty of rumours allegeding the Blues will try to snap up the prodigious striker in the near future if he performs well on Tyneside.
The Portuguese, who is pretty much the man to impress if you want your ability to be recognised in silverware, watched Mitrovic in action against Croatia two years ago when he scored his first and only senior goal for Serbia.
After the match, Mourinho said of the then-18 year-old; “Mitrovic was the best player on the pitch. He managed to keep the ball well and that was the key. That boy has everything to be a European star.”
He’s certainly blessed with the height, power, aggression and lethality the Special One likes in his centre-forwards, so the Chelsea gaffer will undoubtedly be interested in the striker’s progress at Newcastle.
Newcastle’s squad has more former members of the Championship than the Champions League, so Mitrovic’s experience in Europe’s top tournament will be seen as a huge coup by manager Steve McClaren.
Indeed, the 20 year-old excelled in the Champions League’s Group Stages at the start of last season, netting two goals in five appearances as Anderlecht recorded one win, three draws and two defeats in Group D – including a memorable 3-3 with Arsenal in which Mitrovic netted a stoppage time equaliser.
He even featured as an emergency goalkeeper after Silvio Proto was dismissed against Olympiacos. Unfortunately, however, the Serbian striker proved less proficient between his own sticks and conceded the resulting penalty – succumbing Anderlecht to a 3-1 defeat.
Mitrovic has generated a reputation as a bit of a renegade with some even compared him to Liverpool’s infamously mercurial bad-boy Mario Balotelli.
That’s in no small part due to him partaking in on-pitch scraps from time to time – particularly with Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel on his Serbia debut and Genk defender Kara Mbodji during his time in the Pro League, as shown in the video below – as well as his rather exuberant haircuts and tattoos.
But Anderlecht boss Besnik Hasi insists that Mitrovic’s appearance and demeanor are deceptive. He said; “With tattoos and funny haircut he might look crazy but he’s not. He’s a hard worker, someone who gives everything in every single duel. And his level is constantly increasing.The last two years his level increased a lot. He took a step forward last year on the football and mental scale. He’s also physically stronger.
“He knows that England is not Belgium. People are stronger and the ball goes faster. But he showed in Champions League that he can be good in tough matches and that he can stay calm and focused. Newcastle is a big step forward. I hope he’ll play everything. He can score goals and become a top striker but he first has to settle as a good scorer. He’s more mature than before.”
There is perhaps no better way to get the Toon army onside than claim club legend Alan Shearer is one of your personal heroes, which Aleksandar Mitrovic wasted no time in doing after officially signing for Newcastle.
He told the club’s official website; “I also know about the famous players who have played for Newcastle United, like Alan Shearer, who is a hero of mine. I hope I can play like him for this Club. It will be an honour.”
And the 20 year-old has continued to big up Newcastle’s all-time leading goalscorer, quipping to reporters; “My position is through the middle, I’m like the strikers who have played here before – from Alan Shearer to Papiss Cisse. They are big names and I hope I can make a similar impact.
“Alan Shearer is a real legend and one of my heroes. That and Drogba is how I like to play. I’m a physical sort of player. I like to fight and score goals.”
And in turn, Shearer has felt compelled to welcome Mitrovic to Newcastle via social media;
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) July 21, 2015