At the ripe age of 27, Serbia international striker Aleksandar Prijovic is by no means a new name fighting its way to glory.
This late bloomer, however, is currently enjoying a highly successful campaign at both club and international level which is likely to be capped by a lucrative January deal and a starting place for Serbia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a cherry on top of it all.
Long Journey to Glory
Aleksandar Prijovic started his professional career back in 2006.
His two-year stint with former Italian powerhouse Parma saw the Serbian striker play a single league game before he got transferred to Derby County in 2008. Not a single league match (and two loan deals) later, Prijovic landed in Sion in 2010.
Having once again been forced to fight his way through on loans at Lausanne-Sport and Tromso, Prijovic went a long way around to his current club PAOK, through Djurgardens, Boluspor and Legia Warsaw.
Less than 12 years into his professional life as a footballer, Aleksandar Prijovic moved across nine different countries and 11 clubs in total.
Serbian international netted only 29 goals during the first seven years of his career but poor numbers did not discourage Prijovic who is going through a revival at the moment, having scored 60 goals during the past three-and-a-half seasons.
2017 will be the year Prijovic cherishes for the rest of his life knowing he achieved full professional recognition and a lived to be granted a long-desired Serbia call-up.
Serbia’s (almost) Lost Son
Aleksandar Prijovic was born in Sankt Galen, Switzerland, where he made his first football steps at St. Gallen.
As a proud Serb, Prijovic dreamt of putting on the Serbia shirt as a young boy. His dream came through in 2007 when he was rewarded with a Serbia Under-17 call-up. Three games later and PAOK striker was fast-tracked into the Under-19 where he also played not more than three games.
Unsure of his Serbia future, Prijovic accepted a call from Switzerland and played four games in total for the Under-20s and Under-21s, respectively, but Switzerland was never going to be his first choice.
Serbian FA made sure not to repeat the same mistake they did with West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic – the Austrian international – and moved forward to process the integration of Aleksandar Prijovic into Serbia’s senior squad during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
What seemed like a desperate attempt to increase competition for places and put undisputed first-choice forward Aleksandar Mitrovic under pressure, turned into a dream-like scenario for both Serbia and Aleksandar Prijovic.
Homeland’s Hero on Way to Stardom
Prijovic’s modest introduction into the Serbia national set-up received a heroic closure with PAOK striker scoring the goal which sealed Serbia’s place at World Cup in Russia, in a 1-0 win over Georgia in Belgrade.
“This means a lot. I am a Serbian from abroad and I did not get to choose where I would be born but I am Serbian 100 percent. This is a big day for me.”, Prijovic gushed after the match.
Serbia striker concluded the year 2017 in fantastic fashion but picked up where he left from in 2018 as well. Prijovic raked up 14 goals in 22 matches for PAOK this season, including 2 goals he notched in the Greek Cup this week.
The in-form forward is attracting plenty of interest Europe-wide and could be given the opportunity to land a life-changing deal that could act as an overdue confirmation of his rising stock. Premier League hopefuls Leeds United are said to be keen but will face stiff competition for his signature.
Ligue 1 side Rennes have been the latest club in line to be linked with the Serbia man who is reportedly on a €4 million release clause. The French club have displayed their strong determination to land the striker by offering half a million more and January could definitely see Prijovic move to pastures greener.
And it would be a well-deserved move for a man who is ready to put the rocky road behind him and hit the stardom.
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