Adem Ljajic is a name to remember. The 16-year-old has already established himself as a squad player for local giants Partizan Belgrade. Ljajic is one of the most talented young players in Serbia, he has all the qualities required of a complete, creative right winger or central attacking midfielder.
According to the IMScouting database, Adem Ljajicâ€™s estimated market value is â‚¬2,000K and his estimated salary per year is â‚¬50K.
The Serbian media have given him the moniker â€œlittle Kaka,â€ due to his similarities with the Brazilian attacker and the youngster admits that the AC Milan forward is his favourite player. Similar to Kaka, Ljajic is an excellent technician and can play in almost all attacking positions in the team; he is a very brave young player and a great dribbler.
Ljajic was brought to Partizan five years ago by one of the greatest youth coaches in Serbia, Dusan Trbojevic, who had seen him in action in a youth tournament. Shortly after his arrival he started to display his magic in Partizan's youth teams.
Last year, several European giants tried to sign the young midfielder. Inter Milan and Spartak Moscow offered Ljajic tempting terms, far better than Partizanâ€™s and it seemed that the youngster would leave the Serbian giants. But the new management board secured him to a three-year contract, with an option to extend for another three years, despite a number of other clubs watching him, including Arsenal, Ajax and Manchester United.
Ljajic, commented on the interest from these big clubs in July of this year: â€œMy father and I decided it would be best for me to stay and try and make a name for myself at Partizan and in Serbian football first. Iâ€™d like to give something back to a club that gave me everything and without whom I wouldnâ€™t be where I am now.â€
In the summer of 2008 Ljajic trained with the senior squad at Partizan for the first time. The older players in the team were immediately impressed and nicknamed him "Cira," because he reminded them of Dragan Ciric, the former Partizan player who played for Barcelona and was a magnificent technician - a real genius.
But in truth, Ciric was a lazy player and he didn't achieve as much as he should have during his career. In comparison, Ljajic has a different character; he works hard and is always willing to learn. By virtue of wearing the number 22 shirt at Partizan, Ljajic has also been compared to another creative attacking midfielder in Sasa Ilic, who was the last player to wear this number for the Belgrade giants.
It looks like Ljajic will only play a few games for Partizanâ€™s first XI this season as the club has a very strong side aiming for a domestic double and progression in the UEFA Cup. The 16-year-old right-sided attacking midfielder also has some impressive players in front of him. Zoran Tosic is now arguably in the best form of his career and Milos Bogunovic has been a huge revelation.
But, in every game that Partizan are winning comfortably, Slavisa Jokanovic will bring on Ljajic for at least 20 minutes to gain some valuable experience. He has already made five appearances this season, including playing time in the Champions League qualifiers and he also represented Serbia at Under-19 and Under-21 level.
Although Ljajic is 6.0ft, he admits that his main weaknesses are defending and heading, due to a lack of strength, but with the right training and development this should improve as he gains more experience. Ljajic did though recently score a header for the Serbian Under-21 team in their 1-0 win over their Swedish counterparts.
With his great vision, complete technique and strong character, it's only a matter of time before Adem Ljajic makes a big move to an elite European club.