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The Balkan Cruyff with a hint of Kaka: Serbian youngster Djuricic seems destined for greatness as Juventus, Arsenal & Manchester United are watching

By Stefan Coerts | Dutch Football Editor

Heerenveen have been one of the surprise packages of the 2011-12 Eredivisie campaign as they are only three points adrift of a Champions League qualification spot; a remarkable turnaround after finishing 12th last term.

Much of the praise for the Friezen's impressive performances has been attributed to the outstanding form of striker Bas Dost, who has netted 28 goals, and winger Luciano Narsingh's 19 assists. However, there is much more to Heerenveen, as they also have one of the most exciting midfield prospects in Europe in their squad, Filip Djuricic.

The attacking midfielder has been in great form throughout the season, and has already scored nine goals in 31 Eredivisie appearances, while setting up seven more.

The 20-year-old's impressive form this campaign might come as a surprise to some after the youngster struggled in his first 18 months at Heerenveen. However, those who have watched Djuricic with close scrutiny over the years will feel that it was only a matter of time before he would burst onto the scene. Ever since his early teenage years, Djuricic has been regarded as one of Serbia's finest talents, and he was even nicknamed the 'Balkan Cruyff' early in his career.

PLAYER STATISTICS | Filip Djuricic (Heerenveen & Serbia)
Age: 20
Position: Attacking midfielder
Value: €8m-10m
Contract: 2014

Dribbling, flair, creativity
  Height Weight Place of Birth  Current Club Former clubs
  1.76 m 72 kg
Obrenovac  Heerenveen Red Star, Olympiakos, Radnicki Obrenovac

The starlet, who came through the ranks of the Red Star Belgrade youth academy, moved abroad at the tender age of 15, but a spell at Olympiakos failed to advance his development and progress. Djuricic therefore returned to his native country after one year in Greece, but several European giants continued to closely monitor the fleet-footed prodigy.

A move to Manchester United appeared to be on the cards after a successful trial period in early 2009, but the transfer eventually fell through. Nevertheless, Djuricic would get his desired move to western Europe in January 2010 when he joined Heerenveen at the advice of compatriot Miralem Sulejmani.

Djuricic, who has been likened to Real Madrid star Kaka because of their similar playing styles, initially required a bit of time to adapt to his new surroundings. However, this season the midfielder has demonstrated just what he is capable of thanks to a string of fine displays, which have caught the attention of clubs such as Juventus, Napoli, Lazio, Arsenal, Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund.

We'll see what happens in the summer. My goal is to earn a move to Spain. The football there suits my style of play best

- Filip Djuricic

The Serbia international could have moved on in the winter transfer window, but decided to stay put at the time. However, Djuricic now feels ready to make the next step in his career and he is likely to leave Heerenveen for a bigger club at the end of the season.

"I could have joined a bigger club this winter if I had wanted to. I preferred to finish the season here, though. We'll see what happens in the summer. My goal is to earn a move to Spain. The football there suits my style of play best," said Djuricic recently.

With some of Europe's finest showing an interest in signing the 20-year-old, the youngster appears to be on his way to a bigger club ahead of the 2012-13 campaign. He will not have a shortage of options, but it is imperative that he makes the right decision at this pivotal stage of his fledgling career.

Although there is little doubt about the attacking midfielder's immense potential, a move to a club such as Juventus or Manchester United could be a step too big at present. Djuricic will therefore need to choose wisely to take his progression one level at a time, and a switch to the 'best of the rest' in one of Europe's top leagues could be the ideal option.

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