Dusan Vlahovic equalled Cristiano Ronaldo's record for most Serie A goals in a calendar year in 2021; Arsenal have a strong interest in the striker, with doubts over Aubameyang, Lacazette and Nketiah; Vlahovic appeared to 'wave' to the Fiorentina fans during a 6-0 win over Genoa
Tuesday 18 January 2022 11:52, UK
Arsenal target Dusan Vlahovic would prefer to wait until the summer before making a decision on his future, but Fiorentina are open to selling the striker this month.
The Italian club are ready to move quickly, according to Sky in Italy, because they want to ensure they get a good price for the 21-year-old, who has 18 months to go on his deal.
But Vlahovic is keen to hold fire on any potential transfer as he waits to see how the season pans out for his potential suitors, with Champions League football a priority for the Serbia international.
Arsenal retain a strong interest in Vlahovic but will find it difficult to complete a deal this month due to the size of the transfer fee needed to sign the Fiorentina striker.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is convinced they still have the pull to sign the world's best players, saying it remains "one of our biggest powers".
The Gunners' striker situation is up in the air beyond this season, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having been stripped of the captaincy and Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah out of contract in the summer.
Vlahovic has risen to prominence over the last 18 months after racking up 33 goals in 2021, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's record for most Serie A goals scored in a calendar year.
Sources in Italy believe there is only a small chance of the 21-year-old moving this month, and that he is more likely to remain with Fiorentina - who are currently sixth in Serie A - and aid their push for European qualification.
Italian sources also say Vlahovic's preference is to join a side competing in the Champions League. Arsenal have not qualified for the competition for the past four seasons, although they are currently fourth in the Premier League.
The Gunners' pursuit of Vlahovic could be aided by their good relationship with Fiorentina. Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreria is on loan at the Italian club, and including him as part of a deal for the Serbia international has not been ruled out.
Fiorentina also have an option to make Torreira's loan move permanent.
Vlahovic joined Fiorentina from Partizan Belgrade in 2018. As well as making an impression in Italy, the striker also has seven goals in 14 games for Serbia.
Vlahovic appeared to 'wave' at the Fiorentina fans after scoring during his side's 6-0 win against Genoa on Monday evening.
Was he saying his goodbyes ahead of a potential move away from the Artemio Franchi Stadium?
That maybe be premature with suggestions the striker was only apologising for a penalty miss earlier in the game as he saw a Panenka penalty saved by Genoa goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu during the first half.
Vlahovic was seen holding up his hands towards the fans as he re-entered the pitch for the second half before doing it once again after scoring his 17th Serie A goal of the season in the 51st minute.
Dusan Vlahovic was an academy player still two months shy of his 16th birthday when the Partizan Belgrade coaching staff decided he was ready for a trial run with the senior squad.
The plan was for the young striker to take part in first-team training for a period of a few weeks, gaining invaluable exposure to men's football before returning to Partizan's academy to continue his development with the U16s. But the plan soon changed.
"After one or two training sessions, our head coach, Ivan Tomic, said, 'This guy is a monster, this is a player who will be worth 100 million euros one day,' because he showed unbelievable character," Zarko Lazetic, Partizan's assistant manager at the time, tells Sky Sports.
"I remember we played a game of 10 against 10. We put him against our vice-captain, Darko Brasanac, who now plays in La Liga, and he pushed him around like he was already a first-team player. He showed unbelievable things for a player of 15."
Six years on, Vlahovic is causing a stir again.
Only this time on a much bigger scale...
From breaking into the Partizan Belgrade senior squad at 15 to rivalling Europe's best strikers at 21, goalscoring 'monster' Dusan Vlahovic is in-demand.
"I am the Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Belgrade, I will play for the biggest clubs."
Valeri Bojinov was leading the line for Partizan as he witnessed a pimply 15-year-old become the club's youngest-ever player, goalscorer and debutant in Belgrade's Eternal derby against Red Star.
Week after week, Vlahovic repeated his aspirations to Bojinov. It was not long until the former Manchester City striker urged then-Fiorentina sporting director Italo Corvino to fork out £1.7m for his young understudy.
"He was crazy, really crazy," Bojinov said. "But I liked his arrogance. I thought he would become a strong player."
Who will be on the move in January?
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