It has been a little less than a month since Red Star Belgrade and the rest of the Serbian Super League went on winter break. The league will once again resume on February 23rd, when Red Star will face FK Javor, who they lost to by a score of 4:2. In this article, I will be looking at the first half of the season and evaluating what each player brought to the table.
Boban Bajkovic was in net for almost all of Re Star’s games and he has been, in my opinion, the best player in the first half of the season. If it were not for Bajkovic, Red Star would have lost a lot more than three games in the first half that is for sure. Red Star management has stated that if an inviting offer does come in for Bajkovic, the team would more than likely sell with great goalkeepers such as Vesic and Rajkovic waiting in the wings. Evian F.C. may be interested in Bajkovic.
It has been a carousel in the back four with nine different players starting in front of Bajkovic. Nikola Mijailovic has without a doubt been the best defender in the first half of the season. He possesses good tackling, an ability to attack the opposition’s defenders, and he has great passing and technical ability for a defender. Marko Vesovic is another defender who played very well in the first half, but he has asked for a termination of his contract with the club, unfortunately. Red Star rivals, Partizan, were looking into maybe singing Vesovic, but Marko stated that it would not be appropriate for him to join his clubs rivals. Marko stated that he wants to join a club with Champions League ambitions. A possible replacement for Vesovic will be Marko Petkovic, who came over from OFK Belgrade in the summer transfer market and is more than capable in filling in. Darko Lazic and Jovan Krneta were solid for most of the year, but Lazic’s giveaway vs FK Vozdovac, which cost the team a victory, had him sitting on the bench for the last handful of games in the first half. The team is willing to sell Krneta if a request comes in (Elazıgspor were rumoured to be in the hunt, but were not willing to offer 300,000 euros). The Achilles heel of this Red Star team has without a doubt been the atrocious play of the back four at times, which has cost the team plenty of points in league play. Some of the rumoured players coming to the aid of the defense have been Vujadin Savic, Milan Bisevac, Aleksandar Lukovic and Ognjen Vranjes (all of these players have previously played at the club). But with the way it stands right now, it is more than likely that they will not join the club during the winter transfer market.
Milijas, Pecnik and Ninkovic have been the three main guys in the Red Star midfield with each of them starting over 20 games each. Kovacevic was also a regular, until he got hurt halfway through the first part, but Gogic took over for him and it seemed like Red Star did not miss a beat. In the second half of the season, coach Stojanovic should give 19 year old, Savicevicmore playing time because he is one of the country’s best players under the age of 20. Darko Lazovic will also be coming back from an injury that has kept him out of the Red Star line-up for the last eight months or so. Big things are expected of Lazovic, no doubt. I highly doubt that Red Star will sign any players who play in the midfield because they have a lot to choose from when you look up and down their roster. The one player that has been linked with Red Star is FK Napredak’s Obeng Regan, who has had a terrific first part of the season with his newly promoted side.
|Abola Dauda and Dragan Mrdja|
The least of Red Star’s worries have been up-front with Mrdjaand Dauda scoring 20 goals in total. However, in the last two weeks, or so, it seems that Dauda is not happy at the club and would like to go elsewhere. Turkish club, Genclerbirligi has reportedly offered around 850,000 euros for the striker. If Dauda is sold, this could be a great chance for Stefan Mihajlovic and Ognjen Ozegovic to show their worth to the club. Red Star also bought FK Javor star striker, Ifeanyi Onyilo for a sum of 400,000 euros, but he has not panned out. I feel that the management has not given him a chance at all playing him in only four games (two of those games he came on as a sub), to show what he can do. He is a lanky player with great speed. Filip Kasalica could also be on his way out because he is not getting the playing time that he thinks he deserves. Clubs from Russia, Moldova and Korea have been interested in his services. Similar to the midfield, there are no names being mentioned coming over to Red Star, as they have four to six guys they can possibility count on.
What is next?
From what Red Star has told the media, Marko Grujic (17), Mihajlo Ristic (18) and Luka Jovic (16) will all join the club as they prepare for the second half of the season.
Grujic is a player who has one game under his belt playing for the Red Star team in a 3-0 loss to Vojvodina last year. He also has caps for the Serbian U-16, U-17 and U-18 teams, respectively.
Ristic can play any offensive midfield role for the team and it is being said that he can be the next Filip Djuricic with some hard work. Ristic has been capped twice for the Serbian U-19 side.
Jovic is a player that Red Star fans have been hearing a lot about, especially after his hat-trick performance for the Serbian U-16 side vs Croatia. He feels that he can contribute to Red Star right now, at the tender age of 16.
As I mentioned before, if an offer does come in for Bajkovic, I would sell, especially with two to three good goalies waiting for a shot. Dauda is also a player I would let go. I think he brings a lot to the table for this team (speed, pace and incredible shooting), but if he is not satisfied, then he should be sold.
There have also been talks that players such as Miguel Araujo, Omega Roberts and even Vukan Savicevic, could be loaned out to another first division teams. I would not do that, especially with a shortage of defenders and it does not look like the team will be signing new ones any time soon.
The second half of the season officially kicks off on February 23rd, when Red Star will host FK Javor who sits in 14th position out of 16 teams.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.