BELGRADE - The influx of foreign players is preventing homegrown talent from making the grade in Serbia's 12-team first division, Serbian Football Federation (FSS) president Tomislav Karadzic said on Saturday. "Our young prospects are not getting a fair chance to excel because our first division clubs import half-decent foreign players," Karadzic told Belgrade media. "It raises the issue of whether the clubs should keep bringing in 'second-hand cars' while Serbian boys under 16 already have agents looking to sell them abroad. "You can't buy a quality foreigner for 400,000 euros, which is what our top clubs spend when signing players from abroad." Serbian clubs can sign as many foreign players as they want but apart from champions Partizan Belgrade and traditional city rivals Red Star, others have very few in their ranks. Most of them come from Africa and South America and Partizan's Senegalese striker Lamine Diarra is the first division's top scorer while their Portuguese midfielder Almani Moreira has been voted the league's best player. On the other hand, Partizan are unlikely to hold on to their Serbian 17-year-old forward Adem Ljajic, who had a 10-day trial with Manchester United in October and is sought by several big European clubs. "The time has come to limit the number of foreign players in our league and the under-21 national team's results speak for the validity of this argument," Karadzic said. "We finished runners-up twice and reached the semi-finals in the last three European Championships and we have a good chance of winning next year's tournament in Sweden."
27 December 2008
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