Scott Musgrave

Miralem Sulejmani has emerged as one of the hot targets for many European club since his move to SC Heerenveen in the Eredivisie. A startling 15 goals in 34 appearances last term and Sulejmani’s desire to leave the club sparked a mad rush for the 19 year-olds signature.

Having first played in the reknown ranks of multiple Serbian champions,  Partizan Belgrade, the then 18 year-old moved, under somewhat controversial circumstances, to the Eredivisie. Following interest from many Dutch clubs after being touted as one of the next best things to come out of Serbia and possibly Europe; AZ Alkmaar, FC Groningen and SC Heerenveen quickly registered an interest but it was eventually the Frisian club that Sulejmani signed for.

Following a mild hiccup where he was suspended by FIFA for not agreeing to payments to former club Partizan, Sulejmani made his debut appearance against Heracles Almelo at the tail end of the 06-07 season setting up a goal.

His breakthrough season however came to much aplomb, ultimately headlining a Heerenveen act that looked in trouble after Brazilian striker (now of Middlesbrough) Alfonso Alves left in the previous summer.  After hitting 15 goals and 10 assists, including goals against both Ajax and reigning champions PSV Eindhoven, a mad frenzy started for his signature.

The likes of Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord Rotterdam  and Chelsea in particular were the fore-runners for the versatile Serbian attacker, however Sulejmani made his intention to move to a bigger Dutch club first clear;

"I want to be like Ruud van Nistelrooy. He took his first steps at Heerenveen before going to PSV, Manchester United and Real Madrid. I want a career like Van Nistelrooy."

Miralem’s clear intent to play for a major Dutch club before making the jump to a bigger club at a later date saw Ajax become clear favourites to sign the attacking midfielder as they seem to be the only side with an aggressive transfer policy out of the top 3. Feyenoord with a season of big buying coupled with an unsuccessful campaign ruled themselves out of contention and PSV’s relative stingy transfer policy all but ruled them out of the race too as Sulejmani’s pricetag was believed to be around the €10M mark.

It was then without much surprise that a €16.25 Million payment was sent to Heerenveen for the signature of the Serbian international which was completed without delay.

The precocious young star signed a 5-year deal with the Amsterdam club that all but secures a return on the money for Ajax if Sulejmani continues his current form and development. What sparks the most interest for people who follow the Eredivisie is the massive transfer fee Ajax were willing to pay for a 19 year-old forward.  Surely the money invested is in itself a major signal to other clubs in Europe to sit up and take notice. It is perhaps also a sign of Ajax’s faith in the youngster that he will bring them success following his large pricetag.

Under the great Marco Van Basten one can only assume the development of Sulejmani as an attacking player is all but assured. It is hoped he can fill the void left by last season’s departure of Wesley Sneijder to Real Madrid and further strengthen Ajax’s bid for European and domestic glory which their fans have been greatly deprived of lately.

The Eredivisie talent of the year follows the footsteps of his role model Ruud Van Nistelrooy by making his way to the most successful club in Dutch footballing history. Although it may be fair warning to Ajax fans not to become too attached to the Serbian attacker as he already has the ambition to move on when the time is right.

Will this be another product of the Eredivisie to run rampant through Europe? One cannot tell at this stage, but Sulejmani appears to have all the potential to be one of the Ajax greats, and could well be a major player for his country in the years to come, especially with the lack of attacking talent coming through the national squad.