Blackburn Rovers are on the verge of completing their first major signing of the summer, as highly-rated Serbian star Radosav Petrovic closes in on a move to Ewood Park. The 22-year-old defensive midfielder, who has previously been linked with English sides Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as European clubs Vitesse Arnhem, Valencia, Sporting CP and Juventus, would cost Rovers around £3m plus add-ons, according to the Lancashire
Petrovic would arrive as an exciting replacement for Schalke 04’s United States international Jermaine Jones, who spent the final five months of last season on loan at Ewood Park. Jones was priced out of a permanent move to England, as his club slapped a hefty £10m price-tag on the head of the ageing midfielder. However, Rovers’ failure to persuade Schalke to part with Jones could prove to be a blessing in disguise, with the club now looking forward to seeing a younger, more attack-minded powerhouse – in the form of Petrovic – playing in the middle of the park.
Petrovic began his senior career at Jedinstvo Ub just five years ago, yet Partizan Belgrade’s tall midfield enforcer already has World Cup and Champions League experience under his belt. He made 25 SuperLiga appearances for Partizan in the last campaign and racked up an impressive nine goals in the process. Should Petrovic seal a move to Ewood Park, he is likely to play alongside Steven Nzonzi, in what could prove to be a fierce yet efficient midfield. The signing would be a shrewd and sensible move by manager Steve Kean, as Petrovic’s age and low price-tag mean he would be a relatively low-risk purchase.
Given that the Serbian has no experience of English football, there is always the chance that he could fail to adapt to the league, language and country. That is not much of an issue at £3m, but Rovers fans only need to look at another one of their other foreign acquisitions to understand how investing heavily on overseas talent can backfire. Sam Allardyce blew much of his transfer budget on Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic two summers ago. Now, Rovers are reportedly finding it difficult to recoup that £6m for a forward who has netted just seven league goals over the course of two seasons. The club cannot afford to repeat such a mistake.
Kalinic is likely to leave Rovers within the next few weeks, leaving Kean with just two senior strikers – Jason Roberts and Ruben Rochina. Zimbabwean hitman Benjani is yet to commit himself to the Lancashire outfit for another season, while rumours of a move for Papiss Cisse have cooled. However, recent reports suggest that Rovers could swoop for former Real Madrid superstar Raul. The Schalke striker would be a superb marquee signing for the club, but it remains to be seen whether he can be persuaded to move to Blackburn.
Meanwhile, Rovers continued their preparations for the new season with a slender 1-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong. The Lancashire outfit played reasonably well in a tough game against Premier League opposition, but Kean’s side will now face Kitchee in the third place playoff on Saturday.