Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic, a future Golden Boot in Premier League
Aleksandar Mitrovic arrived in 2013 at Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht and the Belgian club were very proud to announce their newest and most expensive signing ever. The Serbian striker scored 13 goals in 28 games for Partizan Belgrade and was one of the best strikers in the U19/U21 international scene. Although Mitrovic was only 18 years old, Belgian media and Anderlecht fans expected a lot from a player that cost a Belgian club €5.000.000.
When Mitrovic arrived in Belgium there was already a lot of fuss about his special haircuts. The Belgian newspapers had a new player to write headlines about. Titles such as “Is this the striker Anderlecht really needs?”, “Is the Serbian striker worth his €5.000.000 price tag?”,… Mitrovic didn’t play one game and most of the people in Belgium thought that Anderlecht would never get any return from the huge transfer fee they’ve paid.
Yet, Anderlecht believed in Mitrovic’s potential and they’ve started the season with him as their number 1 striker. Mitrovic arrived quite late after Anderlecht promised Partizan Belgrade that they could keep him until they’ve played their qualifiers in Europe in September. The striker also played the final with Serbia in the U21 World Cup. A lot of games for an 18-years-old forward.
The Serbian played 32 league games for Anderlecht and scored 16 goals in his first season. Mitrovic showed that he’s a future top striker but also has a lack of helping his teammates when his side has to defend. In six Champions League matches he didn’t manage to score one goal. Nonetheless, he was very important in Anderlecht’s title charge with all his goals.
His second, and last, season at Anderlecht didn’t start well for Mitrovic. After his long season in 2013-2014, Anderlecht gave Mitrovic some extra rest days. The Serbian goalgetter came back with some overweight. Besnik Hasi, Anderlecht’s coach who took over from John van den Brom at the end of the 2013-2014 season, expected his player to be in top condition at any time of the year. John van den Brom didn’t demand that much from his players as he focused on other things during training sessions. Besnik Hasi was hard on Mitrovic in the Belgian press hoping to get him back in shape. Discipline is very important for Anderlecht’s coach, something Mitrovic didn’t find that important at that time of his career.
Besnik Hasi seemed to be the coach that Mitrovic needed. In the 2014-2015 season Mitrovic developed into a hard-working striker who can score 20 goals. Because of his increased working rate, other players could focus more on their part of the game and he also helped Dennis Praet win the Golden Boot in Belgium. There was a kind of role reversal, as Mitrovic’ teammates let him down with service, failing to reach him with their crosses and passes in the opponent’s box. Mitrovic was the only player who scored goals for Anderlecht last year. If everybody played on the same level like the Serbian, he would have scored much more goals for sure.
Every time Mitrovic scores a goal he makes an obscene gesture by moving with his tongue between two fingers. We all have seen that gesture before and know what it means in the western part of Europe. According to Mitrovic it didn’t have anything to do with that. He just wanted, in a matter of speaking, to cut off the tongues of everybody who criticised him. He promised not to show this gesture anymore after scoring a goal. Some weeks later he showed it again after scoring a goal. I wonder if Newcastle and the Premier League jury will see it that way.
Mitrovic is still a raw diamond and Newcastle fans will have to give him some time to let him feel comfortable. I wouldn’t be surprised if he already scores 10-15 goals in his first season in the Premier League though. The Serbian striker is made for a competition like the Premier League or Bundesliga. He’s a warrior in the box and I don’t think I have ever seen a better striker scoring goals with his head like Aleksandar Mitrovic. Newcastle and their fans will also have to allow some controversy because he will bring some extra pressure in the group by making the headlines in the tabloids. As long as he keeps on scoring I don’t think it will be any problem. The Magpies did an excellent move by signing the Serbian international.