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Scout Report: Miralem Pjanic (Olympique Lyonnais / Bosnia & Herzegovina)

So, I haven’t written anything for a while — sue me. But in an attempt to spur me to write more regularly, here is a new series I intend to update every week on the young players seemingly set to make a major splash in world football…

Things looking up: Pjanic has a bright future ahead of him

Things looking up: Pjanic has a bright future ahead of him

Position: Attacking midfielder

Age: 19

Clubs: FC Metz, Olympique Lyonnais

FC Metz might not have the best record on or off the pitch in recent years — in 2007-08 they finished well adrift at the bottom of Ligue 1, and suffered a one point deduction for instances of racist abuse from their fans — but they enjoy widespread respect in the footballing world for their youth system and scouting network.

After all, this is a club that has given untried talents such as Robert Pires, Louis Saha, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Sebastien Bassong their opportunity to break through in professional football, and a club that relies on the recruitment of young players to maintain their league standing.

Unfortunately, all the aforementioned players — as is the accepted way for a provincial club like Metz — moved on to bigger and better clubs in order to continue to fulfil their potential and ambitions.

Miralem Pjanic is just the latest example of such a player.

Pjanic is a fantastically gifted attacking midfielder, who has already forced his way into the Olympique Lyonnais team after earning an €8 million move from Metz in the summer of 2008.

He joined Metz from Luxembourg youth side FC Schifflange 95 in 2004 after showing a natural aptitude for the game. Having moved to Luxembourg as a one-year-old (to escape the civil war in what is now Bosnia & Herzegovina), Metz’s location on the French border enabled him to stay near his adopted homeland.

It would prove to be the perfect place for him to develop his skills.

While only in the first-team at the Stade Municipal Saint-Symphorien for a short time, the then 16-year-old still managed to shine in the squad that was cruelly exposed as being woefully short of top-flight quality.

Upon the club’s relegation, it was inevitable the youngster would move on. After impressing against them in a Coupe de France tie Lyon were desperate to add the young maestro to their ranks, and their determination was to be rewarded when Pjanic put pen to paper.

To English eyes Pjanic might look like a more developed version of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, and indeed he is similarly adroit with the ball on the field as the English youngster. He is an equally formidable creative influence in the heart of midfield, with fantastic technical quality, but also has a powerful right foot that makes him a dangerous threat from outside the box.

Proving ground: Pjanic in action for first club Metz

Proving ground: Pjanic in action for first club Metz

He was bought implicitly as the successor at Lyon to the ageing Juninho Pernambucano (especially as Ederson, a similar player in build and style, struggled with the task). After a season on the bench to learn from the Brazilian master, Juninho’s summer departure has allowed Pjanic the opportunity to step into the role.

So far, he has taken on the task without so much as missing a beat.

His goals against Debrecen and Anderlecht in the Champions League, both from free-kicks, indicate that the club might not miss the Brazilian’s dead-ball mastery for too long. They also indicate Pjanic appetite for the big occasion — something Pernambucano regularly displayed.

“I work to be like Juninho,” Pjanic has said.

“I don’t compare myself to him. I don’t want to put pressure there. What he has done is enormous.

“Of course, it’s nice to be compared to a player of such a level. I try to play my games well and score the free-kicks I’ve learned. It can become a strong point for the team.”

Pjanic was courted by many English and European clubs before making the move to the Stade Gerland in 2008. With some impressive performances under his belt in the Rhone region, the midfielder once again finds some of the biggest clubs in the world flocking to him.

And with the youngster set to make his first appearance against English opposition as his club take on Liverpool next week, let alone a potential World Cup appearance in South Africa next summer (his country are guaranteed a play-off spot), expect a bidding war for the No. 8 to start sooner rather than later.

‘I am happy that other clubs are showing an interest,” Pjanic has said, although his manager Claude Puel has stated that, “The idea is not to sell unless a big offer arrives.”

With Manchester City reported to be interested, if Pjanic continues in the same rich vein of form that ‘big offer’ might not be too far away.

VIDEO: Pjanic enjoys breakout performance for Metz against Lyon:

October 13, 2009 - Posted by | Sport, World Football | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Report: Javier Pastore (Palermo) Last week it was Miralem Pjanic, who might well tear Liverpool apart in the Champions League. Now the focus falls on Javier […]

    Pingback by Scout Report: Javier Pastore (Palermo) « Catch Seventy7 | October 20, 2009 | Reply

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