United nearly-man 'happy' to have met club legend but praises 'special' City star

Adem Ljajic has discussed his notorious near-move to Manchester United and says Manchester City’s Stevan Jovetic left a lasting impression on him.

It is a story that has followed Adem Ljajic through his young career as a footballer, and likely always will – his ill-fated switch to Manchester United.

In 2009 the Serbian talent was set to sign with the Premier League giants from Partizan Belgrade, only for the deal to memorably fall through in December of that year.

Instead the versatile forward ended up at Fiorentina, where he bagged 16 goals and assists each in four seasons of work – catching the eye of Europe’s elite club in the process.

Ljajic says he relished the opportunity to meet United legend Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the collapsed move, but that his Fiorentina experience enriched him as a footballer.

He told Roma TV: “I was about to sign for Manchester United along with Zoran Tosic, but in the end the deal didn’t materialise and I joined Fiorentina instead.

“But I was happy to have met Sir Alex Ferguson. I was 18 when I signed for Fiorentina and there were a lot of strong players and I’ve made a lot of friends there, like Stevan Jovetic and Stefan Savic. I have fond memories of Florence.

“Jovetic in particular has really helped me to improve my football. He is a special guy first and foremost and one day I hope I’ll play with him again.”

The Serbian has of course since moved on to Roma in the summer of 2013, while Jovetic also then left the Stadio Artemio Franchi for Manchester City in a £22 million deal.

Ljajic himself has been linked with a move to English shores given that he’s struggled somewhat at Roma, with Liverpool and United (again) each said to be interested.

Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia granted him just 17 Serie A starts last year – five this term – and speculation has been rife that a move away is not far off.

Ljajic, however, insists that he is committed to the cause at the Stadio Olimpico, praising Garcia and his team-mates as he targets silverware.

“At the moment I feel good with Rudi Garcia, I’d like to say a lot of nice things about him. I really hope we can keep doing a lot of nice things with him – we’ve got a great staff and want to win something.

“”It’s a real honour to be part of Roma because there are some excellent players who can really make you stronger. Living and playing with them for me is really important.”

Perhaps the 23-year-old will one day make his way to the Premier League, but for the time being he seems focused on winning in Serie A.

The mooted United transfer simply led him down a different path in his career, and it will be interesting to see where it takes Ljajic in the years to come.

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