Serbian prodigy next United star
Sir Alex Ferguson claims Manchester United youngster Zoran Tosic bears more similarities to David Beckham than Cristiano Ronaldo after admitting that the Serbian winger is just six weeks away from breaking through at Old Trafford.
Tosic, 21, is due to receive international clearance this week after arriving at United from Partizan Belgrade in a 16.7-million-pound joint transfer with 17-year-old Adem Ljajic earlier this month. The Serbia international will not be considered by Ferguson for the forthcoming Premier League fixtures against Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers due to his lack of match fitness.
But the United manager insists that Tosic has the attributes to make a quick impact in England, even if those expecting him to develop into another Ronaldo are likely to be disappointed. Ferguson said: "There's a difference between Zoran and Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a player with fantastic speed who can dribble, but Zoran is more straightforward.
"We have watched him play that position a few times, but his natural position is the left-hand side. Zoran understands the game very well, however. He is intelligent, has a great delivery of the ball and strikes it well too. He has good energy, so he is probably more similar to Nani than Ronaldo.
"We'd obviously like all of our young players to turn out like Ronaldo! That goes without saying, but we still look for the same potential. That means the potential to play in our first-team and we like to play with width, so Zoran is our type of player.
"There are several things that have to happen for the lad first, however. Settling in is always an issue for young players and they need to physically develop, get used to the English game. But we expect Zoran to progress on that quite well. We are looking at six weeks ahead, given the progress he needs to make because he hasn't played since Dec 10. He will need a good six weeks to adjust."
With Ronaldo developing into the most celebrated footballer on the planet since his arrival at United, as a replacement for Beckham, in August 2003, Ferguson admits that the Portuguese star is the perfect example to the youngster following him to Old Trafford.
Ferguson said: "In the case of Cristiano, we are all very proud of him achieving his status, but he has said himself that he owes a lot to Manchester United for nurturing him in the proper way, playing him at the right times and developing him as he is now.
"It's a two-way street really. The player must have ambition, drive and determination to succeed, but the club is a place where you have to develop and set your ambitions high. The challenge everyone should set themselves, not just United players, is the dream of getting to the very top."
Tosic insists that he is determined to prove his ability to succeed in England with the European champions. He said: "I have followed Manchester United for years. As a boy, I never thought I'd be able to play for them, but later on, I thought it might be a possibility.
"We all know what sort of team and players we are talking about here, but it is up to me to prove myself and get in the team as quickly as possible. When I'm ready to play and when I'm chosen to play, I don't feel I will need to change many things. But it's up to the others to decide when I am ready."