Tom Olver profiles the Everton new boy with a history of hot-headedness...
The 60-second story
- Name: Muhamed Besic
- Date of birth: September 10, 1992
- Age: 21
- Height: 1.77m (5ft 10in)
- Previous clubs: Hamburger SV II, Hamburger SV, Ferencvaros, Everton
- International career: Bosnia and Herzegovina (12 caps, 0 goals)
The career of Muhamed Besic has been a rocky road to say the least. An undoubted talent who has too often let his passions get the better of him, Besic has moved from Hamburger SV to Ferencvaros and most recently to Everton, all before the tender age of 22. An impressive World Cup outing for Bosnia and Herzegovina saw him linked with numerous Premier League clubs but he eventually opted for the blue half of Liverpool.
His story is littered with controversial moments but he arrives on English shores with a view to establishing himself as a midfield powerhouse in the Everton engine room. First he will have to get into the starting XI.
Why you need to know him
Born in Berlin to Bosniak parents, Besic signed for Hamburg at 16 before being thrown in at the deep end with a debut against Borussia Dortmund in 2010/11. His first start came against Borussia Monchengladbach where he played the full 90 minutes, and his side won 2-1 in the process. Initial success and an international call-up aged just 18 appeared to mark the beginning of a long and fruitful career with the German giants, but shortly after making his debut, reports claimed that Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink had attempted to strangle Besic, and that their relationship in a professional manner was beyond repair.
Accordingly he signed for Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros and played for them from 2012-14. Transferring to a weaker league may have seemed like a backward step on the face of it, but after a tumultuous time in Germany it allowed Besic the chance to resurrect his career.
From the outset Besic’s game revolved around a physical, all-action approach, seemingly custom-made for the Premier League. So when Roberto Martinez spent just £4 million to bring him to Goodison Park, it was widely viewed as a shrewd piece of business from the Spaniard. The Bosnian’s arrival was overshadowed in the media by the £28 million signing of Romelu Lukaku, but it may be Besic’s signature which reaps greater rewards in the long-run.
To reduce the Bosnian's game purely to physical attributes would be an injustice: his heavy-handedness is matched in equal measure by his delicate touch and rangy passing skills. All the while an unerring self-belief bordering on arrogance is etched on his face, and in every touch he makes on the pitch. Besic will, however, find it difficult to break into a strong Everton team given that both Gareth Barry and James McCarthy had extremely strong seasons last year.
Nevertheless, with Barry not getting any younger, Martinez quite possibly views Besic as his long-term replacement at the heart of the Everton midfield. Toffees fans have a soft-spot for rough diamonds and Besic is already being touted as a potential cult hero. You only have to look as far as Thomas Gravesen and Duncan Ferguson to understand the kind of player that can go down in Everton folklore.
(Er, the music? Yeah, we know)
Before signing for Everton, Besic played every minute of Bosnia’s 2014 World Cup and dominated their player statistics charts: he was the top performer for passes made, passing accuracy, accurate long balls, total touches and total distance covered. Besic somehow gave a midfield masterclass in a struggling team and, in particular, was widely praised for his performance against Argentina where, for the most part, he kept the shackles on Lionel Messi.
His impressive passing statistics stand him in good stead at Everton. The Toffees, with Martinez at the helm, have a game based around possession of the football and Besic should feel at home with this ethos. The Bosnian’s versatility also means that he can operate as a defensive midfielder or at centre-back. He may need this versatility to find a way into an established Everton team. Ross Barkley’s injury lay-off, however, may free up space in the starting XI.
At the World Cup, Besic made by far the most fouls for Bosnia, proving that his passing talents can be marred by defensive indiscipline. By joining Everton, however, he will is entering arguably the most physically demanding top flight in the world so should not totally relinquish this part of his game.
Besic has made a habit of rubbing fellow players and managers up the wrong way in his relatively short career thus far. He must acclimatise in the Everton dressing room as well as on the pitch for any chance of succeeding at the Merseyside club.
Martinez has highlighted Besic's versatility, emphasising that: “Muhamed is a young footballer who has developed massively in the last two seasons. He has been playing as a centre-half and as a defensive midfielder at an incredible level.” It perhaps demonstrates the Spaniard's reasons for signing the 21-year-old: viewing him as an important squad member who has the potential to break into the side as either a defender or a defensive-minded midfielder.
"Muhamed means a lot to us," said international team-mate Miralem Pjanic. "I play well with him in the midfield. He has made a very good impression on me. He is a high-quality player.” In a national team blessed with creative talent like Pjanic, Besic provides the defensive capabilities which balance the team beautifully. A disappointing World Cup campaign for Bosnia, albeit in a tough group, is just the beginning of the journey for this young crop of players. Besic is central to Bosnia’s plans going forward.
Did you know?
- Shooting 5
- Heading 7
- Passing 9
- Tackling 8
- Pace 6
- Dribbling 6
- Creativity 7
- Work-rate 8
Besic became the youngest player to play for Bosnia, aged 18, when he played in a friendly against Slovakia in November 2010. The record was previously held by Roma's Pjanic.
What happens next?
Besic must now set his sights on breaking into the Everton first team. Martinez has made no secret of his admiration for the young Bosnian, and Besic’s versatility could be fundamental to him establishing himself at Goodison Park. When he does break into the team he has all the ingredients necessary to become a fan favourite on the terraces. A tough-tackling approach, combined with an impressive passing range, are the perfect match for a modern-day Premier League midfield maestro.