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Dusan Vlahovic: 5 things you need to know about the Arsenal target

Dusan Vlahovic
(Image credit: PA)

If you've not heard of Dusan Vlahovic by now, you clearly don't frequent the gossip columns of tabloid newspapers or watch Serie A.

The super Serb has been lighting up Italian football over the past 12 months, drawing the attention of just about every big club in Europe. Arsenal are pushing hard for his services – but if Vlahovic doesn't end up there, he'll likely be off in the summer.

THE LATEST Arsenal report: Dusan Vlahovic deal agreed with Fiorentina – with just one stumbling block left

But who is he? Here's everything you need to know.

1. Early starter

Arsenal have played this song before. Back when Vlahovic was property of Partizan, the Gunners bid £2m for his services, which was dismissed out of hand.

In fact, the lanky striker made his debut for the Serbian side back when he was just 15 years of age. He's also the youngest-ever goalscorer for Partizan Belgrade and the youngest-ever player to have appeared in the fiery Eternal derby between Partizan and Red Star Belgrade. Vlahovic actually broke future Real Madrid star Luka Jovic's record, on that front. 

Vlahovic can credit developing physically from an early age with his quick rise. He was playing mostly with older players when he played at the Altina Zemun football school as a child. 

2. "I am Zlatan"

As with so many taller, physical strikers of the 21st Century, Vlahovic idolises Zlatan Ibrahimovic and holds the AC Milan forward as his personal hero. 

"He never allows anyone to command him," Vlahovic said of the striker, also of Eastern European descent. "After the match in Florence in which we lost 3-2, he scored, after the match I said, ‘He’s probably fine now, he’s not very angry. I’ll see if I can take the opportunity to get his shirt’."

According to former Manchester City striker Valeri Bojinov, who played with Vlahovic at Partizan, the youngster goes as far as believing he actually is the super Swede.

"Vlahovic was crazy, really crazy," Bojinov claimed. "He used to tell me: ‘I am a Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Belgrade, I will play for the strongest clubs.’ I liked his arrogance."

3. Daylight Ribery

Not many midtable Serie A 21-year-olds can claim to have had world-class footballers play a big part in their development. Vlahovic attributes part of his incredible mentality to one of the elite footballers of the past decade or so, though.

When Franck Ribery was at Fiorentina, the French superstar was apparently quite an influence on a young Vlahovic, helping to shape him into the player he is today. 

"When I was down, he spoke to me and told me to never give up. That’s how I understood what it means to be a champion on the pitch and in life," the Serbian said of Big Franck. 

4. Goal machine

It's never a bad thing to draw comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo, is it? While CR7 didn't achieve quite what he wanted to in Italy, he set a few records and one of them was equalled last year by Vlahovic.

Vlahovic managed a whopping 33 Serie A goals in a calendar year, just before Christmas. That matched Ronaldo's tally from the previous 12 months. 

In fact, the only players with a better xG in Europe's top five leagues than Vlahovic this season are Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile, Mohamed Salah, Patrik Schick, Kylian Mbappe and Diogo Jota. Not bad company to keep at all. 

5. Three-fingered salute

After helping Serbia to the World Cup in Qatar, Vlahovic was pictured after the game making a three-fingered salute with his team-mates. Speculation on social media went into overdrive as to what the gesture meant.

Arsenal fans were particularly worried. Should Vlahovic join the north Londoners, there might be a rivalry between him and Granit Xhaka, who famously celebrated a goal against Serbia with a hand gesture representing the flag of his ancestral Albania. Serbia and Albania have in the past, let's just say... not got on.

It's commonly called the Serbian salute and originally expressed Christianity's holy trinity. The salute is used in oath-taking in Serbia, often accompanies the nation's flag and is used as a gesture of national pride, so shouldn't be viewed as necessarily antagonistic.

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT