He was one of the most talented footballers Serie A had seen for years. One could have easily mistaken him for a young pony-tailed playmaker who made his name in the same purple shirt of Fiorentina back in the late Eighties.
His name was Stevan Jovetić and he took the league by storm after his move from F.K. Partizan to La Viola in 2008. His amazing ball control, technical ability and creativity was what set him apart from other players his age, leading many to compare him to The Divine One, Roberto Baggio. “Jo-Jo,” as he came to be known by the Fiorentina faithful, went on to play over 130 matches for La Viola, scoring 40 goals in all competitions. After recovering from cruciate ligament damage that saw him miss out almost the entire 2010-2011 season, Jovetić returned the following year to score 14 goals in 27 matches in the league and played an integral role in the squad’s qualification for the Europa League this term after just missing out on the Champions League on the last day to Milan.
Teams around the world took notice of the young 23-year-old’s amazing potential, and offers came in to Fiorentina headquarters for their Montenegro wunderkind. A substantial offer was finally made by one of the richest clubs in the world, Manchester City. The £22million offer was enough to pry Stevan away from Fiorentina and the youngster was unveiled at City this summer. A sky blue shirt with the number 35 was held aloft by the player on his signing day, a number both he and the City fans hoped would make it on the score sheet many times over the next few years. However things have not exactly gone to plan for Stevan or the City team that spent so much to bring him to England.
The Montenegro footballer has failed thus far to settle in at City. He has made only five appearances for the team (three in the league and two in cup tournaments) and seems more likely to play second fiddle to the Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero tandem that has been so lethal for Manchester City so far this season. Jovetić has missed the last eight matches with a calf problem, and the hopes are that once he shakes off this latest setback, he will once again become an integral part of the team. Despite the poor run of form suffered by Jovetić and the limited playing time so far this term, Manuel Pellegrini insists that the youngster is a part of his plans for the club this season, but will being a super sub be enough to please the same player who was once a 90-minute player in Florence and such an integral piece of the Viola’s success? Regular appearances in the first team is what the player needs and he is too good to become a player only used during cup ties to give rest to regulars like Aguero, Negredo and Edin Džeko. How long will Jovetić wait around to become an integral player for the Manchester City side?
Rumor has it he has already given up on his English adventure and is longing for a return to the peninsula where he made his name known and where things seemed to come so easy to him. Both Internazionale and Roma have been sniffing around to see if a possible loan move could be in the cards. If so, Jovetić will be another in a long list of players from Serie A to fail in distant lands. The names of Andriy Shevchenko and Alberto Aquilani are often bandied around as players who were stars in Serie A but never quite made the cut in the Premier League. Will Stevan’s name be another in that list? It is still a long way from being that critical and hopes are that it all can be avoided.
City insist that once Jovetić is healthy and playing regularly, he will settle down and play the football we all remember him for. But at what cost? When will the Montenegrin be back to his best? At 24 years of age, the player is now at a point in his life where the next four years should be the best of his career. The hopes are that he is playing regularly but what if he isn’t? What if his burgeoning talent is left to wither away on a Manchester bench watching the action instead of taking part? What a travesty it would be if we were denied seeing him reach his full potential, the same potential that once had him compared to one of the greatest players to ever play the game. The latest injury to Argentine Sergio Aguero, a calf injury that will have him out for up to eight weeks, could be just what the Montenegrin needs to get enough playing time to make a name for himself and show his worth to his manager and his new team. That is, if he can recover from his own injury in time.
The talent of Stevan Jovetić is explosive. He needs to be on the pitch for 90 minutes. He is one of those players who can change a match in an instant with a moment of magic that leaves fans on their feet. If Pellegrini is not willing to take advantage of his amazing talent, then I only hope they can allow him to play elsewhere. And if Italy is the place he chooses, then all the better. With players like Mario Balotelli, Kaká and Giuseppe Rossi returning to their former heights, the peninsula may be just what the Montenegrin needs to once again become the player we all expected him to be. One thing is for sure, to have his talent hidden away from those who yearn to see his magic again would be a real shame.
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