Football

Manchester United ghost transfer caused ‘psychological shock’ to the ‘next Kaka’

You’re 17 and are being called the future of your national team. Manchester United come calling and offer you a trial. Months later the club reveal they are impressed and want to sign you.

A future transfer is agreed for you and your teammate. While you spend the rest of the year with your current club, you intermittently pop over to Carrington to train with international heroes who will one day become your colleagues.

But right on the brink of your transfer, the deal collapses. Your friend has completed his move to United but the club say they can no longer facilitate your switch.

This was the gut-wrenching reality for Serbia’s Adem Ljajic. After wooing United personnel during a trial in October 2008, the Reds shook hands with Partizan Belgrade the following January for his future transfer.

The teenager was to spend the remainder of 2009 in Belgrade before making the transition over to United in the new year. Meanwhile, clubmate Zoran Tosic had made the immediate move over and was handed the No.14 jersey.

His impact at United has been largely forgotten, as has Ljajic’s ghost transfer story. The latter, an attacking midfielder, had made great strides after making his senior debut for Partizan aged just 16.

His displays attracted the attention of United, who tracked the Under-21 Serbia international before offering him a trial. A £9m deal was organised soon afterwards but Sir Alex Ferguson was insistent that his immediate development was best served at Partizan for the short-term.

Nemanja Vidic took both Ljajic and Tosic out for dinner before they officially put pen to paper. “It is good for Serbia and for me to have them around. I hope they enjoy it,” Vidic said.

I did not need to convince them to come to Manchester United. This is the best team in the world. Everyone wants to be part of this squad. They are having a dream. I know how they feel. I found it very difficult when I first came here but I am here to help.”

Ljajic was understandably overjoyed with his movie-star move to football’s equivalent of Hollywood. “It has all happened so fast for me,” he said at the time.

I am only 17 and have had some dreams in the past but can now have one more: the United shirt… however, I will spend the next year learning more at Partizan and I will be ready for Old Trafford next January.”

The youngster – dubbed ‘the Serbian Kaka’ – continued to show his burning quality for the rest of the season with Partizan, being part of a 13-game winning run from March onwards that saw his club storm to the domestic title.

He grabbed three assists and two goals in that time and United soon had him over for training sessions ahead of his move.

Ljajic soon learned of the quick tempo Sir Alex had alerted him about about during these sessions. “The quality in England is very high because you are training with such great players, but the main difference is it’s much quicker,” he conceded

The post Manchester United ghost transfer caused ‘psychological shock’ to the ‘next Kaka’ appeared first on zululegit.

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