Following his arrival from Anderlecht in the summer, Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrović has made an interesting start, to say the least, on Tyneside but his vital goal and assist in the 2-1 victory against Tottenham at the weekend may just kick-start his career in a Geordie shirt.
Costing the Magpies £13 million, Mitrović has had mixed fortunes in his debut season in the top flight, and his three goals to date have been accompanied by a straight red card against Arsenal.
The 6ft 2in forward, who aspires to play like club legend Alan Shearer, scored against Manchester City and Norwich earlier in the season, helping his brave claim of matching the style of the Premier League’s highest ever goalscorer.
Making an impact from the bench, the Serbian star has had to wait for further chances to shine in a famous black and white shirt, and his introduction at White Hart Lane was explosive as he scored the equaliser within two minutes of coming on to the pitch.
Following the close range tap-in, Mitrović then went about gaining the Toon Army a well-needed three points as he flicked on Georginio Wijnaldum’s ball for Spaniard Ayoze Perez, whose shot scrambled in under Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.
Where did it all begin?
Born into the formally known FR of Yugoslavia, Mitrović is Serbian by birth and came through Partizan Belgrade’s (FK Partizan) youth system before being promoted into the first-team.
The 21-year-old made his senior debut for affiliated club Teleoptik in Serbia scoring seven times in 25 appearances.
He later made his full debut for parent club Partizan in 2012, but only played the one-year at the club after enjoying a successful return of 13 goals in 28 games.
Moving on for Mitrović
After much speculation, Mitrović was sold to Anderlecht in 2013, despite signing a four-year contract in Serbia a year before, and began his new life in Belgium.
With a transfer fee of €5 million (just over £3.5 million) the decision for selling the player was due to a request from Mitrović and his family.
The forward made an impressive start with two assists in his first 45 minutes in a purple shirt after entering from the bench in a league game against Zulte Waregem.
Boasting a record of more than a league goal a game, the striker’s stock rose and he introduced himself to the English public when he equalised in the ‘Instanbul-esc’ Champions League game, when Arsenal were pegged back to 3-3 after being 3-0 up, scoring in the 90th minute.
The wild side
It hasn’t taken the Serb long to let us know what he is about, a physical player with shades of Diego Costa, Mitrović has a long history of scoring goals and getting booked.
After a highly impressive UEFA Under-19 qualifying campaign, top scoring for Serbia with four goals, the forward went into the 2012 tournament with high hopes and aspirations.
However, before the tournament could really begin he was sent off against France in the opening game in which Serbia crashed to a 3-0 defeat.
The talented forward missed the whole tournament due to suspension and Serbia’s struggles without him were apparent after only scoring one goal in his absence and losing all three-group games.
Serbia’s hopeful star
Despite the initial ups and downs in his international career, Mitrović has shown already his potential to be a revolution.
After senior call-ups to the national squad, the Serb travelled to Lithuania in 2013 for the UEFA Under-19 Championships and this time fared a lot better, establishing himself as a key player in the tournament’s winning team (the first competition win for Serbia.)
With a hand full of international caps and a couple of goals the striker will now be hoping to replicate early youth form and become a real star for the national team.
What now for Mitrović?
Debut seasons are never easy in the Premier League but the signs so far are promising, and vital goals, in what could be a big season for Newcastle, will soon win the Geordie faithful over.
His bulldog like approach could be just what the Magpies need, and if, in the next six months, he can have a similar impact Diego Costa did last term then we could be in for a treat.
A lot will be made over rash challenges and hot headedness, but at the age of 21, experience will nurture his aggression and the £13 million spent on him could be seen as a real coup in years to come.