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Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic seems to be a wanted man in the transfer market, with reports of a number of English clubs monitoring the player emerging over the past few days.
First, the Sun reported that Premier League side Arsenal had sent out scouts to watch the Serbian with Manchester United also understood to be interested. And now a report from ClubCall claims that the 21-year old has admirers from the English second division as well, with Championship outfit Fulham believed to be scouting the player.
With interest in the Serbian starlet intensifying, here we bring you the lowdown on Andrija Zivkovic and try to find out why the clubs are lining up to sign him.
Born on 11 July 1996, in Nis, Yugoslavia, Zivkovic had a short tenure in his formative years with local club Nacional Nis, before he moved to the academy of Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade in 2009, at the age of 13. Having worked his way through the youth sides extremely rapidly, the winger made his first team debut for Partizan in April 2013 and went on to sign his first professional contract with the club later in August the same year.
In his first full season in 2013/14 with the club, Zivkovic became the youngest captain in the history of the club, when he led the side in March 2014 at the age of 17 years, 7 months and 18 days. He finished the campaign with 5 goals and a sole assist in 25 games. The attacker continued to make a name for himself over the next two years, as he scored 19 goals and registered 12 assists in 67 appearances.
In the summer of 2016, Zivkovic was signed by Portuguese giants Benfica on a free transfer, after his contract with Partizan had expired. In his debut season in Portugal, the winger netted just one goal, but chalked up 11 assists in 24 games across all competitions, as Benfica completed a league and cup double. In the ongoing campaign, the 21-year old has found the back of the net three times and set up five more in 21 games in all competitions.
Zivkovic has represented the Serbian international team across all age groups and is the youngest ever to have represented the Serbia senior team, when he made his debut in October 2013, aged 17. The winger was an integral part of the Serbian side that won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015. Till date, he has seven senior appearances for the national team.
An out and out winger who can play on both the flanks, Zivkovic is more effective when he is starting out on the right-side and cutting in onto his stronger left foot.
Blessed with great technical abilities and very good ground speed, the 21-year old is a major threat to any opposition. His penetrative movement in the attacking third and the ability to create chances for his teammates can truly take him far. A good passer of the ball, the Serbian international has that creative edge to his game that allows him to break open defences with utmost regularity.
Zivkovic is also a very good set-piece taker and his free-kick and corner deliveries are always an avenue of goals for his team. The winger is someone who works very hard off the ball as well and isn’t shy about performing his defensive duties.
Pace, skills, technique, the 21-year old ticks all the right boxes needed to grow into a devastating winger, but the element of consistency is something that he needs to bring into his game. In addition to that, he also needs to develop his goalscoring instincts to be a bigger threat to opponents.
Zivkovic has shown great potential in his fledgeling career and the signs obviously are pointing to the fact that he can make it big in the world of football. At 21, he still has a long way to go and there is a need for him to polish his game a bit more. Any club who will sign him would reap benefits in the future, but from the player’s point of view, staying put at Benfica where he is getting regular playing time and exposure of European football would be the best move.