For many reasons, Adem Ljajic is one of the most confounding players to have graced the international stage over the past decade. Blessed with innate feel for the game and seemingly preternatural skills, the world was at Ljajic’s feet. With a little patience and some seasoning, Ljajic was destined to be one of the best of his generation, a player with exceptional touch, vision and a keen eye for goal.
If you’ve followed Serie A at all over the past several years, you know the story all too well. Leveled by accusations of immaturity and selfishness, Ljajic’s Fiorentina career flamed out just as it seemed he was about to make his mark.
Seeing an opportunity to snap up a talented but troubled asset, Roma snapped up Ljajic prior to the 2013-2014 season, and while his numbers with Roma weren’t as gaudy as his breakout 2011-2012 campaign with the Viola, Ljajic still tallied 15 goals and seven assists in all competitions over two seasons. Considering his age and reserve role, that was an astounding return and seemed to portend better and brighter days ahead.
Whether it was due to the acquisitions of Juan Iturbe and/or Victor Ibarbo, Ljajic soon fell out of favor with Rudi Garcia and was summarily sent on loan to Inter, for whom he turned in 25 rather inconspicuous appearances.
Now, the bitter irony in the Ljajic affair is simply this: despite his performance under Garcia, from the moment he arrived we couldn't help but imagine Ljajic blossoming under Luciano Spalletti’s tutelage. Whether he was a trequartista, a false nine or a second striker, Ljajic always seemed like an ideal Spalletti player, the kind who harkened back to the glory days of the mid 00s.
With the rise of Diego Perotti—who has proven to be an ideal Spalletti foil as well—Ljajic simply had no place in Spalletti’s XI, putting Roma in an unenviable position; attempting to offload an asset for which they have no use while still trying to wring a buck out of the deal, to say nothing of letting go of Ljajic’s always alluring potential.
After last week’s absurd story that Ljajic was engineering his own move to Celta Vigo, Roma had seemingly found a suitable home for Ljajic; a reunion (of sorts) with Sinisa Mihajlovic at Torino. And, just as you would expect given the names involved involved in this equation, it hasn’t gone easily, with Ljajic seemingly changing his mind twice in the span of a day.
So, as it stands right now, Ljajic remains a Roma player, one without a clearly identified role, to say nothing of having the manager’s confidence, while Torino has reportedly pivoted towards Luis Muriel, leaving Ljajic with fewer options than he had a day ago.
Despite all of Ljajic’s travails in his career, he has been a model citizen for Roma, but, barring a change of heart from Spalletti, this has all the makings of a caustic situation.