Alen Stevanović has been trying to catch the eye of the top sides for quite a few seasons now and it looked for some time he was going the wrong way about it.
Having failed to make an impact at Inter the winger was shipped off to Torino in Serie B and then subsequently as far away from European football as you can get: the MLS and Toronto FC.
This was only last summer and now 21, Stevanović was called back to Turin to flesh out a squad that had and have real ambitions of returning to the top flight.
Currently in the chase for top spot in Italy’s second tier, Toro under coach Giampiero Ventura, as he has always done through his long career of ups and downs, has persisted with an attack-minded approach which has found Stevanović employed predominantly on the right wing although he has been switched to the opposite flank in the course of a couple of matches.
Standing a shade shy of 6ft and possessing a physique similar to Cristiano Ronaldo there the similarity must end with the Real Madrid star before anyone thinks Manchester United or whichever Premier League side have been turning up at Serie A stadiums, are set to unearth the next CR.
Under pressure he is more likely to give up possession than to wriggle his way free
He possesses good pace but nothing out of the ordinary in the modern game and although he likes to or is encouraged to get in behind his opposite number, his final ball lacks real quality especially his crossing on the move which more than often has seen the ball float harmlessly over the bar or fail to by-pass his marker.
In a league where a midfielder and a full-back will double up on anyone hugging the touchline Stevanović has found it difficult to create space which suggests that his dribbling and close skills are not of a talent destined for the top.
Under pressure he is more likely to give up possession than to wriggle his way free and being predominantly right-footed, opponents are content to force him inside which may suggest why he was rejected by Inter.
In fact, he has probably been more of a threat drifting in from the left but his team-mate Mirco Antenucci is equally adroit if not better in that role.
Ventura has started him 25 times but he has hardly completed the full ninety minutes as he runs out of energy no doubt with all the effort put in to finding space and creating something out of nothing; while those brought on to replace him have been no great shakes in this department.
We are talking about Serie B, which is mediocre at best, and the ease in which he has been shackled – just three goals and three assists so far – suggest that it is either the system: no overlapping full-back to take the pressure off, or that he has still some way to go to be considered a top-flight operator.
How he arrived in Italy may give a clue to where he will end up. It was the Serbian connection of Dejan Stankovic and Sinisa Mihajlovic who were keeping tabs on promising youngsters back home who alerted Inter to the then 18-year-old’s raw talent although the aforementioned Torino and Sampdoria has also made enquiries.
Jose Mourinho initially ignored him and he worked away with the rest of the hopefuls in the youth team but with various first-team regulars out injured he made one appearance as a substitute before disappearing again: The Special One saw he wasn’t that special but maybe time will show differently.
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