Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of teenage full-back Kosta Nedeljkovic from Red Star Belgrade, but his Serbian compatriot Marko Grujic admits it is going to be tough for him in the Premier League.
The 18-year-old has been snapped up by Villa but immediately loaned back to Red Star for the rest of the season, having made 18 appearances for the club so far this campaign.
The right-back already has Champions League experience, facing Manchester City in this season’s competition, but he will continue his development in Serbia before moving to Birmingham over the summer.
Grujic, who spent four years as a Liverpool player from 2016-20 and now turns out for Porto, says it is going to be a tricky transition for the youngster when he does come to England, but should take confidence from the fact Villa have clearly seen something in him.
‘It would be crazy to say that it won’t be difficult for Costa, that is, that it will be easy to get games and minutes at Aston Villa,’ Grujic told Mozzart Sport.
‘First, he needs to overcome and deal with the big difference in the quality of the game and the opponent. So far he has played in Red Star, a club that dominates, has possession, attacks. He played in a team that was expected to break the opponent with offensive play.
‘Aston Villa are playing great football with Emery, they are in a great position at the moment. But this is a team that is not expected to be in the top all the time.
‘It is certain that it will be difficult for him, that he will need some time to settle down and be what he expects from himself, but also what they expect from him.
‘When he comes to Birmingham, Kosta must be focused and motivated to the maximum. Only in this way will he be able to hope for success in the strongest league in the world. He must be willing to learn and listen, absorb from the older players.’
Grujic feels there will be opportunities for the youngster to shine, especially given Villa are likely to be in European competition again next season.
‘In the beginning, it will be difficult for him to be in the starting 11, but such teams count on more than 20 guys during the season. He has to accept that and find the points where he is better than the competition. There is no doubt that there are,’ the 27-year-old continued.
‘They paid serious money for Kosta Nedeljkovic, taking into account the fact that he is a young player and from Serbia. They saw that it had a certain quality. They recognised his potential, which should be a wind at his back.
‘He must believe in himself and not be afraid. He must not be afraid, but he will have to work a lot on himself. That’s the only way he can make a success in a big club.’
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