At Lazio, left-back Aleksandar Kolarov became affectionately known as ‘Serbia’s Roberto Carlos,’ and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has described him as an ‘extraordinary player.’ Whilst Manchester City fans will be relishing the thought of such a highly rated player lining up at Eastlands, those without an affiliation to the blue half of Manchester might be wondering why it cost £17m to secure the services of a defender who not only is a relative unknown in some parts, but more importantly had just a year left on his contract.
Born in Belgrade in 1985, Kolarov spent the first three years of his career playing in his home-town before the Italian giants spotted him in 2007. They agreed an 0,000 transfer deal with OFK Beograd, a decision which has given the Rome club around a 2500 percent return. It was as much his attacking prowess as his defending that gained him plaudits, and Lazio fans will forever remember his sensational goal against bitter rivals Roma last season , in which he ran the length of the pitch before slotting past Doni. Kolarov won just one major piece of silverware with the Biancocelesti, the Coppa Italia in 2009, and when speculation began to link him Europe’s biggest spenders, the Italians decided to let him leave for a side that could fulfill his ambitions.
Roberto Mancini has been a long time admirer of the full-back and the speed and strength that he demonstrated on his Lazio debut caught the eye of the then Inter Milan boss. In the Premiership, it could be his strength that leaves him in good stead. Kolarov has a powerful left foot and having scored a number of spectacular free kicks in Italy, it seems likely that City’s opponents will be on the receiving end of his stinging set pieces. The full-back is predicting five goals for next season, more than any Mancini’s rearguard could manage last year, and since one of the main problems for the City team was an over-dependency on goals from the strikers, this will be encouraging news for fans.
So impressive is his ability when going forward, that his defensive might is often overlooked. At 6ft 1, the left-back is a towering presence in the box and is always ready to make a last minute clearance and is unfaltering in a tackle. In the past, the Serbian has described his frustration with the Italian style of football, stating; ‘it’s too tactical and this makes it harder for me to express myself.’ His new side, however, played some really impressive attacking football last season and if he can help them turn high scoring draws into exciting victories, then they could become genuine title contenders.
One of the most notable traits of Kolarov is his unyielding desire for victory. His new manager has already called him a ‘winner’ and this was reflected in his disgust at the Lazio fans celebrations, when their defeat by Inter Milan helped stop Roma from winning Serie A. The Serbian has ambitions of Premier League and eventually European Cup glory, but there may be one major stumbling block for the Eastlands team. Doubts have been raised about whether City’s newly assembled squad will be able to gel immediately, and fans have pointed to the fact that Vincent Kompany could potentially be the longest serving player in the first eleven, despite having only been with the club for two years. Mancini has attempted to counter this problem by having two top players challenging for every position, and while this could imply that current left-back Wayne Bridge will be strong competition, Kolarov’s price tag suggests that his new manager has the faith to let him ‘express himself.’