Ultimate summer transfer targets: Stevan Jovetic

The Montenegrin looks set to leave the Artemio Franchi this summer, but Arsenal is reluctant to pay Fiorentina's desired fee, and La Viola are unwilling to sell to rival Juventus.
As was the case after his phenomenal Champions League double against Liverpool in 2009 at the age of just 19, Stevan Jovetic's name is on the lips of European football fans again ahead of this summer's transfer window.

Four years on, the continent is watching and waiting for his next move, with Arsenal and Juventus both hoping to offer the forward an escape route in the coming months. Typically, it's proving a little less simple than that.

For now, and not for the first time, the Montenegrin is in limbo. 

Partizan 2006-08 51 13
Fiorentina 2008- 116 35
It had appeared as though he may be moving to Manchester City last summer, but after lengthy negotiations between the two clubs, an agreement could not be reached in time to seal a deal.

The Premier League side even negotiated a first option on the player when they signed Matija Nastasic on transfer deadline day, though interest cooled over the course of the season as it identified other targets.

Jovetic has admitted that he had stayed with Fiorentina after being told by president Mario Cognigni that the club would challenge for a Champions League spot, but with an unsuccessful assault on third place now behind them, the Viola seem resigned to losing the attacker this time around.

Arsenal had staged preliminary talks with the Serie A side in April, and moved into pole position to sign him last month after it became clear the player was for sale. The Gunners had hoped to do a deal for around 20 million pounds despite Fiorentina's public insistence that they were holding out for his 25.4 million euro buy-out clause.

That appears to be where the deal has stalled; Juventus has reportedly shied away from the Premier League outfit, but while Jovetic has hinted that he would be happy to remain in Italy, his club is not so keen. It has become something of a stand-off.

At 23, Jovetic would offer a versatile attacking option for both sides, and most importantly for two teams that have, at times, been profligate in front of goal, he has hit the target more than 10 times in each of his past two Serie A seasons.

The Montenegrin has suggested he would like to stay in Italy on numerous occasions, telling Vijesti in December: "If I leave Florence, then I'd like to stay in Serie A because I am happy here."

He has been encouraged by Montenegro teammate Mirko Vucinic to join him at Juve.

"We play close together in the national side and we often switch positions with each other," Vucinic told Tuttosport. "I'd like to do that at Juve as he is a countryman and is a really strong player."

He has also been encouraged to leave Fiorentina by a couple of Viola teammates.

"Jovetic can play for one of the top clubs. I hope he does, because he is one of my closest friends. I would recommend City to him," said defender Stefan Savic.

Forward Luca Toni added: "If he has to leave, then make it for a real top club. Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United fit that bill, but Arsenal are not better than Fiorentina."

Fiorentina remains keen on blocking a move within Italy.

"If we do sell, we would prefer him to go abroad," director Daniele Prade admitted.

Prade also approached the player's representative, Fali Ramdani, about increasing Jovetic's release clause, but it was felt the Montenegrin had nothing to gain from renegotiating.

"Jovetic has not ruled out the possibility of staying in Serie A, despite the affiliation he has with Fiorentina. Indeed, of the sides who have shown interest in him, Juventus and Arsenal appear best placed to make an assault in the market.

"For Fiorentina's part, they have a very clear valuation of 25 million pounds for Jovetic, and it feels well-covered should he move on thanks to the excellent form of Adem Ljajic in 2012-13, plus the arrival of Giuseppe Rossi in January and his subsequent return to full fitness.

"However, while their backup options may be ample, the Viola are very determined to get the best price for the Montenegrin, meaning they are likely to hold out for the full 25 million before allowing Jovetic to speak to any suitors."

- Renato Maisani | Goal Italy

At the moment, Arsenal is refusing to up its offer, and the transfer remains in limbo.

Fiorentina's stance would suggest that the Gunners are best placed to strike a deal; their interest is clear, City has moved on and is trying to sign Edinson Cavani, while Fiorentina is unwilling to sell to Juventus or anybody else in Serie A.

Even then, Prade has publicly claimed that the Gunners have not made any contact, and he has not spoken with Juventus, either.

"With Arsenal we have not had any contact, it's a route that does not exist," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The situation for the player will be resolved directly by the president Andrea Della Valle and we will see what happens. We would be happy for him to remain in Florence.

"I have not been authorised to speak to Juventus. If the club owners do not authorise me to do so, then I will continue along this path."

Bianconeri general director Giuseppe Marotta, however, confirmed a desire to bring Jovetic to Turin as rumors swirled in Italy that the Old Lady had offered more money than Arsenal and moved ahead of the North London club in the reckoning.

"Jovetic and Gonzalo Higuain are both great strikers," Marotta told Rai Sport. "We want to improve the playing staff available to Antonio Conte in the summer so we are exploring various options at the moment."

And Fiorentina has changed its stance again in recent days, claiming that Jovetic is not on the market at all. But admissions by both co-owner Della Valle and coach Vincenzo Montella that the star forward is likely to leave are telling. He is almost certain to depart, though talks seem to have ground to a halt on all sides.

For his part, Jovetic has talked kindly of both Juve and Arsenal in the past, saying the English outfit are a club he has an "affinity" with. Of the Old Lady's interest, he admitted: "I feel honored that they are keeping tabs on me."

It is clearly a very complicated deal; Arsenal is unwilling to pay the buy-out clause, Fiorentina is unwilling to sell to Juventus, and Jovetic does not seem to mind where he goes. Unless somebody backs down soon, it is a saga that will run and run.