Adem Ljajić – Deal off?
Posted by nickogs20 on December 3, 2009
Seemingly out of the blue, reports in the English media this evening have surfaced stating that United’s signing of Serbian teenager Adem Ljajić from Partizan Belgrade – thought to have been a done deal since January – has been cancelled.
The picture is more than a little confusing – we’ll attempt to put over the ‘facts’ as they stand:
– The signing of Ljajić was announced back in January at the same time as that of Zoran Tošić, with the official site confirming the deal and displaying pictures of the Serbian duo being ‘paraded’ at Old Trafford alongside Sir Alex Ferguson and a United shirt. Ljajić has always been spoken about as a United player and has himself stated his pride at being a United player.
– Today, the English media are saying the deal is off, with the Daily Telegraph most notably quoting ‘a United spokesman’ as saying “We had an option to buy the player but, having closely monitored his development over the past 12 months, and taken into consideration the young players emerging through the ranks at the club, we have chosen not to pursue the transfer”. This statement was seemingly in response to a comment from Partizan president Dragan Djuric which hinted at the plug having been pulled due to a ‘financial crisis’ at United.
– The Serbian media are saying that the reports in the English media of the deal being off are false. They carry quotes from Ljajić’s agent saying the deal’s still on as far as he’s concerned (barring the acquisition of a work permit), and more extensive quotes from Djuric saying they have heard nothing from United about calling the deal off. Djuric’s comment about a ‘financial crisis’ seem to refer to the rumours about the deal being called off, not any official communication with MUFC.
Many things about this developing story don’t quite add up. The quotes from a United spokesman in the Telegraph would suggest the deal is indeed off, and yet those quotes aren’t reproduced on the club’s official website or any other media outlet, nor is the spokesman identified. It would seem unlikely that United would unilaterally decree that the deal is off, so the statements of Partizan’s president and Ljajić’s agent that the deal is still on to their knowledge tend to suggest that if there are question marks over the transfer, they aren’t unresolvable ones as far as the Belgrade club are concerned.
Further to that, the apparent statement from the United spokesman that the deal is essentially off because the club have come to the conclusion over the last twelve months that Ljajić isn’t the player they thought he was or would be seems very strange in the light of the following comments from Sir Alex less than a month ago, at a time when he confirmed the club were applying for a work permit for the 18 year-old:
“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 in January.”
Bearing in mind those comments were made about three weeks ago, would the manager say that, and apply for a work permit, if he had decided the player wasn’t up to scratch? Is it likely that he’s changed his mind about the player in those three weeks, a period in which the player continued to perform well for Partizan, as he has all season? I wouldn’t dream of second-guessing the manager, but both scenarios seem extremely unlikely.
That would lead me to two possible conclusions – either the media reports in this country are false and the deal is still on (or perhaps there are minor problems with it that need ironing out), or the president of Partizan was correct in implicating that the transfer had been shelved due to financial concerns brought about by the sizeable debt that United are currently struggling to service. Hopefully that first conclusion will come to pass, and with regard to that, we can only hope United clarify matters as soon as possible. If the deal is indeed off, while this isn’t really the place to go into detail on issues surrounding the club’s financial status, you can be sure that conclusion two will be explored in-depth elsewhere.
We’ll endeavour to update the story tomorrow as things develop, hopefully with some concrete information either way. Keep an eye on our twitter feed (@manunitedyouth, or check the top of the right sidebar), we’ll try to pass along any dribs and drabs of info that may emerge.