Aleksandar Mitrovic moved to Belgium at the age of only 18, having already impressed for Partizan.
In two seasons at Anderlecht he’d made a smooth transition to a higher level and with 44 goals had quickly outgrown his surroundings.
A real star in the making, Mitrovic was desperate for his next move, finance of course played a part, but more so his progress on the pitch.
This summer saw a long drawn out transfer saga with Newcastle named from the off as an interested party but all the talk in Belgium and from the player’s father, was that only a club who could provide Champions League football would be considered.
Fast forward and of course Aleksandar Mitrovic is now a Newcastle player.
After he signed there was a lot of talk about Newcastle always being the club for him…but whilst he has said in the past he was a fan of the club, I think we all knew that other factors had come into play.
The reality is that it is good news/bad news as to the reasons why the Serbian striker is at Newcastle.
It’s great news that United have signed a far better goalscorer this summer than most of could have hoped for.
The not so great news is that St James Park is his growing up stage, the place where he will show whether he can handle the bigger stage and deal with the not so clever side of his game.
In short, Mitrovic has ended up at Newcastle because firstly our club was prepared to pay the fee/wages, but mainly because any decent Champions League club wouldn’t touch him because of his ridiculous disciplinary record.
To have 47 yellows and 6 red cards before you are 21 takes some doing, especially when you are a striker.
Unless something very strange happens at Newcastle in the next two years, by which I mean Champions League football or at least a serious challenge towards it, then he will almost certainly be heading out of Newcastle United.
He is a very exciting talent and if he succeeds on both the goals and self-discipline front then ridiculous offers will come in for him.
If he ends up being somebody who doesn’t mature and ends up being more trouble than he is worth, then I have a feeling that Newcastle will ditch him and probably comfortably get their money back.
The estimated £40m or so per season that every Premier League club is predicted to get from next year via TV, will ensure that strikers command crazy money. From next season, £13m for a potentially very good forward will see any number of clubs still prepared to gamble on Aleksandar Mitrovic.
As for his teething problems with Newcastle, when you look at his arrival in Belgium we maybe shouldn’t be surprised.
His first start for Anderlecht saw Mitrovic score two goals in a 5-0 win over Mechelen.
However, the very next weekend things got tougher, a 4-0 defeat by Club Brugge and Mitrovic sent off in only his second league match. His over-enthusiasm (as Steve McClaren describes it) getting the better of him, in his frustration and desperation to impress his new club and fans.
As Steve McClaren has said about the striker, he is simply trying too hard to prove his worth on a bigger stage and paying the price in terms of cards and a suspension already.
I am convinced he is going to become a formidable goalscorer for Newcastle once he calms down and a small part of me does believe that this could end up in a longer term relationship with NUFC.
For that to happen though, there has to be substantial investment over the next couple of years and clear signs that Mike Ashley is serious about trying to gatecrash the top six on a regular basis.
The challenge is on.
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