Manchester United is to cancel the deal for Partizan Belgrade’s Adem Ljajić, according to a reports late last night. United had an option to buy Ljajic, 18, in a proposed £16.5 million double deal with Zoran Tošić sealed last January. But having monitored the right-sided midfielder’s progress the club the club’s hierarchy has executed their option to end the deal.
Confusion surrounded the deal Thursday morning, with Ljajić’s agent claiming that United’s inability to obtain a work permit for the talented midfielder was the only factor affecting the deal. Indeed, reports last month suggested the club is prepared to move Tošić out on loan to make way for Ljajić in the first team squad.
“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 not chosen to pursue the transfer,” confirmed a United spokesperson in a statement this morning.
The deal for the Serbian pair, normally composed of an initial down-payment followed by further money based on appearances and success at the club, has turned cold though. Tošić has made just five appearances for the club – all from the substitutes bench – in nearly a year at the club. The left-sided Serbian is, seemingly, just not built for the rigours of Premier League football.
Official word emerged from the club Thursday morning, with Darron Gibson and Tom Cleverly – on loan at Watford – now thought of as better options in midfield. United’s deal for Ljajić – which was on a “first refusal to speak” basis – ended after the teenager join the club at Carrington for a number of training sessions over the past year, a United spokesperson told Rant.
The club had sought out a work permit for the teenager but had word that it would likely be declined, even under the ‘exceptional talent’ provisions. A spokesperson told Rant that this provision had been abused in a number of recent high-profile cases.
Even so, United’s withdrawal still represents a major surprise with the teenager often ranked among the very bst European talents in his age group. Dubbed the ‘Serbian Kaka’, Ljajić has become a YouTube sensation since the deal with United cam to light close to 12 months ago. Indeed, Ferguson has been on record praising the special talents of the player as recently as October.
However, Ferguson is clearly pleased with the talent emerging at the club and the rapid progressed made this season by Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia and Darron Gibson.
Ljajić’s agent, Mladen Furtala, added to the confusion in the Serbian press by claiming that the deal could yet be resurrected.
“As far as I know, the only problem is the work permit,” said Furtala.
“Manchester can solve this quickly. Journalists called me, asking what was happening, but I am confident that everything will be OK at best and that from January Ljajic will be officially a Manchester United player.”
Perhaps the last word on the deal comes from Partizan president Dragan Djuric, who claims that United’s crippling £700 million debt is the real reason that the club is pulling out of the deal at this stage. Indeed, with Carlos Tevez moving to Manchester City and Cristiano Ronaldo sold, United’s transfer kitty is a theoretical £100 million. But United has spent little of that money.
“I read the news in our media about the possibility that Adem Ljajić will not go to Manchester,” Djuric told the Serbian media.
“All this is in the field of speculation. The truth is that Manchester United has not yet arranged a work permit to our players, but so far none of them refused.
“Maybe the news came because Manchester United is in financial crisis, but believe me we did not get anything official.”