Manchester United reject comes of age and lights up Serie A

Adem Ljajic, a player Manchester United turned down, had a sensational night for Fiorentina this evening.

Former Manchester United teenager Paul Pogba is enjoying a fine season with Juventus, and he is not the only former Red Devil having a good time of it in Serie A.

That's if you count Adem Ljajic as a 'former Red Devil' at all; he sort of signed for United, but then he sort of didn't.

To elaborate, back in early 2009 Manchester United announced they had completed a double deal for Zoran Tosic and Adem Ljajic, both of Partizan Belgrade.

Tosic, the older player, came over immediately. To tell his story in a single sentence, he failed to make the first team, was loaned, and then sold to CSKA Moscow, where he has turned out to be a roaring success.

The deal for Ljajic involved him arriving at Old Trafford a year later due to work permit complications. When it came to the time; United pulled out, deciding not to exercise the option to complete the deal, perhaps due to being less than enthused by Tosic, perhaps financially, or may be being disappointed by the player's own progress.

The real reason we will never really know, but Ljajic's boss claimed he was sent into 'psychological shock' by the rejection, although he quickly finalised an alternative move to Serie A.

Last season was a difficult one for him. Tasked with stepping into the shoes of injured Stefan Jovetic, the Montenegrin's shoes proved too big for the attacking midfielder to fill and his form failed to take off under the weight of expectation.

Then two bizarre incidents made it even more tricky. His own manager at Fiorentina, Delio Rossi attacked him after being enraged by a perceived show of petulance by Ljajic at being substituted.

Next he was banned by his country for failing to sing the Serbian national anthem, a policy which would have seen Wayne Rooney axed by England years ago.

Tonight, and forgive us for taking a while to get to the point but Ljajic's tale needs telling to provide context, he showed he is not back - because he never really arrived, but he really 'came of age.'

With the eyes of Italy watching on in Serie A's big Sunday night game, he provided the spark for Fiorentina to demolish Inter Milan 4-1 and close the gap between fifth and sixth to one point.

The 21-year-old's goals, with a brace from Jovetic sandwiched in-between, were notable for their exquisiteness, a header and a curling shot - with an assist in there too.

It was the best performance of Ljajic's career to date, and easily the most impressive of the season; he previously had just one goal to his name.

It's a sign he is ready to fulfil the potential which saw United 'sign' him as an 17-year-old. It's hard to say if he ever would have got the first team opportunities to flourish at Old Trafford, but if he continues performing as he did tonight, United have missed out on a gem.

Check out Ljajic's opener...

And his second goal...

What do you think of Ljajic's career so far and his 'transfer' which never was?

image: © yoca91

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch