Dusan Vlahovic: 5 things to know about Arsenal target
If you haven’t heard of Dusan Vlahovic yet, you clearly don’t frequent tabloid gossip columns or watch Serie A.
The Serbian super has lit up Italian football for the past 12 months, catching the attention of almost every big club in Europe. Arsenal are pushing for his services – but if Vlahovic doesn’t end up there, he’s likely to be out this summer.
THE LAST Arsenal report: Dusan Vlahovic agreed with Fiorentina – with only one stumbling block left
But who is he? Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Early start
Arsenal have played this song before. Back when Vlahovic was at Partizan, the Gunners offered £2million for his services, which were rejected out of hand.
In fact, the lanky striker made his debut for the Serbian side when he was just 15 years old. He is also Partizan Belgrade’s youngest ever goalscorer and the youngest player to feature in the fiery Eternal derby between Partizan and Red Star Belgrade. Vlahovic actually broke future Real Madrid star Luka Jovic’s record on this front.
Vlahovic can credit his physical development from an early age to his rapid rise. He mainly played with older players when he played in Altina Zemun football school as a child.
2. “I am Zlatan”
Like many of the bigger physical strikers of the 21st century, Vlahovic idolizes Zlatan Ibrahimovic and considers the AC Milan striker his personal hero.
“He doesn’t allow anyone to command him,” Vlahovic said of the striker, who is also of Eastern European descent. “After the game in Florence where we lost 3-2 he scored, after the game I said, ‘He’s probably fine now, he’s not very angry. I’ll see if I can take the opportunity to get his shirt back.”
According to former Manchester City striker Valeri Bojinov, who played with Vlahovic at Partizan, the youngster goes so far as to believe he is the super Swede.
“Vlahovic was crazy, really crazy,” Bojinov said. “He was telling me: ‘I am a Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Belgrade, I will play for the strongest clubs.’ I liked his arrogance.”
3. Ribéry daylight
Few 21-year-old mid-tier Serie A players can claim that world-class footballers played a significant role in their development. Vlahovic attributes some of his incredible mentality to one of the elite footballers of the last decade, however.
When Franck Ribery was at Fiorentina, the French superstar apparently had a big influence on a young Vlahovic, helping to make him the player he is today.
“When I was down he talked to me and told me never to give up. That’s how I understood what it means to be a champion on the field and in life,” said the Serbian about Big Franck.
4. Goal Machine
It’s never a bad thing to draw comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo, is it? While CR7 didn’t quite achieve what he wanted in Italy, he did set a few records and one of them was equaled last year by Vlahovic.
Vlahovic managed 33 Serie A goals in a calendar year, just before Christmas. This matched Ronaldo’s tally from the previous 12 months.
In fact, the only players with better xG in Europe’s top five leagues than Vlahovic this season are Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile, Mohamed Salah, Patrik Schick, Kylian Mbappe and Diogo Jota. Not a bad company to keep at all.
5. Three Finger Salute
After helping Serbia at the World Cup in Qatar, Vlahovic was pictured after the game doing a three-finger salute with his teammates. Speculation on social networks has multiplied as to the meaning of this gesture.
Arsenal fans were particularly worried. Should Vlahovic join the North Londoners, there could be a rivalry between him and Granit Xhaka, who celebrated a goal against Serbia with a hand gesture depicting the flag of his ancestral Albania. Serbia and Albania have in the past, let’s just say…didn’t get along.
It is commonly called the Serbian salute and originally expressed the holy trinity of Christianity. The salute is used when taking the oath in Serbia, often accompanies the nation’s flag, and is used as a gesture of national pride, so it should not be seen as necessarily antagonistic.
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