It’s an idea that goes back a few months. At the turn of a discussion, Davide Vagnati, the sporting director of Torino, is presented with the name of a certain Nemanja Radonjic, a player who is described to him as « very talented », with a great desire « to revive » in a « favorable context ». He then decides to find out about his profile, but some people prefer to advise him against it.
« I decided to take it anywayhe told The Gazzetta dello Sport early September. We all thought together with the coach, Ivan Juric, and my collaborators. I spoke to him more than once. He is very strong, even if he has wasted his talent a bit in the past. He wanted to come to Torino, and he demonstrated it by drastically lowering his salary. »
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Sure of his choice, Vagnati picks up his phone to negotiate with Pablo Longoria, the president of OM. Already convinced, the interested party expressed his desire to leave La Canebière while he continued to discuss with his fellow Serbs from Toro, Vanja Milinković-Savić and Saša Lukić. With the latter, he played several years earlier in his career, before finding him in selection.
The two have been talking a lot in anticipation of a deal between the clubs, with messages streaming in almost every day. « He told me about the club, the employees, the tifosi« , confirmed Radonjic during the formalization of his transfer on July 7. Between the parties, an agreement is reached around a loan with option to buy, which can turn into a bond under certain conditions. Total cost of the operation according to Sky Italia: 2 million euros.
I’ve seen him do things I haven’t seen in a long time
Quickly, the now ex-OM player seduced everyone, from his teammates to his coach, who quickly made him an indisputable holder in his 3-4-2-1. Radonjic finds a smile and, above all, confidence. Its summer preparation is more than successful, with tifosi already under the spell of their new number 49. « He is the new idol of Torino supporters. His debut is more than convincing« , wrote The Gazzetta dello Sport last August 20. « I’ve seen him do things I haven’t seen in a long time“, says Ivan Juric at the turn of a press conference.
For his first official match, against Palermo in the Italian Cup (3-0), the Serb continued his momentum by scoring a goal and delivering an assist. With, by the way, a yellow card collected … for having provoked the referees. Unhappy to have had a goal canceled for offside, Radonjic took advantage of his second goal, this time valid, to dedicate it to the referee of the match, who logically did not appreciate it. But even his tempered character, which has often harmed him, seems to please his new supporters.
For his part, Juric hammered at him all summer that it was time for him to relaunch, and that this opportunity was probably unique. Between the two, the bond is strong and mutual esteem. The 47-year-old technician does not hesitate to lecture him when necessary, even if it means using methods that are sometimes a little strong. Once the stick, and another the carrot. « Juric follows him almost obsessively, explaining to him what to do, the position of the body to adopt, the rhythm to keep. A kind of hammer that keeps hitting (…) From the first training, he made him understand that he should not miss his chance« , said the Corriere Torino this summer.
The Toro intends to keep it
With 451 minutes on the clock this season, the 26-year-old seems to have understood the message, contributing greatly to the good performance of his team, sixth in the championship with 10 points in 5 days. Left on the bench only once, against Atalanta on September 1, before coming into play at the end of the match, Radonjic had been unable to do anything to avoid the only defeat of his team (3-1) until now. Saturday, against Inter Milan (6 p.m.), he will obviously start in the granata attack, he who is the player who has touched the most balls in the box since the start of the season, and the one who has tried the more dribbling in Serie A. The « trequartista » of the Toro is also in the top 10 of the players who hit the most in the box.
« Radonjic has become a fundamental player for this teamwrote our colleagues from Eurosport.it after his only goal in the league against Cremonese (1-2). His quality is something rare and probably unique in this squad. His backheel at the start of the 0-2 action only confirms it. » « He can become the transfer of the summer (…) His speed, his dribbling and his vision of the game conquered everyone, as did his fantasy« , estimated the Piedmontese daily Tuttosportexplaining however that the Serbian international will have to learn to show himself « more concrete« in front of goal.
« He is a very nice discovery, a player of great quality“, welcomed Urbano Cairo, the president of Toro, this week. Happy in this new reality of Turin, the person concerned is therefore on track to stay there.It is practically already ours, there is an obligation to buy“, announced its sports director on September 2 at a press conference. Good news for OM, which had spent more than 10 million euros in August 2018 to recruit him. Soon ancient history.
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