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Serbian wonderkid’s potential move to Benfica is a tragic tale of exploitation

Earlier this week we reported news from the Portuguese press that Serbian wonderkid Andrija Zivkovic had signed for Benfica for free.

As it turns out the club have today released a statement saying that no deal has been agreed.

What is barely in doubt at all however, is that the U20 World Cup winner will leave Partizan on a free this summer.

partizan stadium

However, behind the scenes this is one of the saddest transfer stories you will ever hear.

(We’re talking really sad, not Dream Team sad.)

Thanks to the scourge of third party ownership the cash strapped Serbian club will also pay €2.5m (£1.9m) in compensation to superagent Pini Zahavi.

In 2014, Partizan sold 50% of Zivkovic’s economic rights to Zahavi’s Cypriot club Apollon Limassol without even telling him or his family.


That deal contained a crazy clause that said if an offer was rejected by either the club or the player, Partizan would have to pay Apollon €2.5m, club president Zoran Popovic told Serbian daily Telegraf in Setpember.

In January, Zivkovic and his father turned down an offer, believed to from Benfica, which meant the clause would be activated if he didn’t sign a new deal.

That transfer window ended with the ridiculous situation of Partizan banning their top youngster from playing or training for refusing to leave the club.

“We fear the individual puts himself above the collective,” a club statement in February said.

“Partizan is our house, Andrija’s house, a house which Predrag Mijatovic, Mateja Kezman, Savo Milosevic, Aleksandr Mitrovic and Lazar Markovic all knew how to repay.”

mitrovic partizan

Zivkovic reportedly broke into tears when he found out about the ban.

So there you have it, while FIFA have banned third party ownership, agents can still find loopholes by buying a club and youngsters are still exploited.

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