During the Serie A game between Fiorentina and Novara last Wednesday, May 2, Fiorentina manager—now former manager—Delio Rossi slapped one of his own players, forward Adem Ljajić. Ljajić had protested Rossi’s decision to remove him from the game.
Unfortunately for Ljajić, millions around the world witnessed this humiliating incident.
Though Rossi was clearly in the wrong, Ljajić did provoke the assault with his childish antics.
A few years ago, Ljajić almost transferred to Manchester United, but the deal fell through, with Partizan's then-sports director Ivan Tomić saying: "I think that they will regret this decision in future."
In hindsight, though, Manchester United dodged a bullet by not signing the overrated Ljajić.
After 32 minutes, not only were Novara 2-0 up, but Adem Ljajić was anonymous, which led to his substitution. (It is not uncommon in Serie A for managers to sub underperforming players off before half-time.)
Ljajić sarcastically clapped Rossi's decision (if you do that to the referee, you get red-carded, as Wesley Sneijder found out) and said something that led to Rossi going bonkers and slapping Ljajic right in the face.
CalcioMercato.com reported that Ljajić said Rossi was more disabled than his child. The inference was that one of Rossi's three children had a disability, but none of them do.
In fact, his son Dario used to work for Walter Sabatini (the current director of football for Roma), and his daughter Greta was a Miss Italy participant.
Surprisingly, referee Antonio Giannoccaro didn't send Rossi off. However, Fiorentina later fired Rossi, and he is banned from coaching in Serie A for three months.
In the end, Rossi made the right substitution, but it was a terrible choice to unleash months of frustration on a brat like Ljajić.
If you were wondering, Fiorentina came back to draw 2-2, perhaps spurned on after hearing their fans implore Rossi to assault more players—only in Italy would that happen.
Adem Ljajić is Álvaro Recoba but without the goals and assists.
When Inter Milan beat Fiorentina 2-0, Ljajić looked like he wanted to cry because Lúcio was all over him.
It happened again when the two teams drew 0-0 last week—this time Ljajić failed to score from the penalty spot.
In a 3-0 Coppa Italia loss to Roma, Ljajić struggled against Simon Kjær, who has been awful this season.
Even when Fiorentina beat AC Milan 2-1, Ljajić couldn't expose Daniele Bonera, who was scared to tackle because he had a yellow card.
It shouldn't surprise you that Ljajić has yet to play a full Serie A game this season.
Last November, when In Bed With Maradona did their review of Don Balon's top 100 youngsters, Ljajić received a D grade with this comment:
May be great but evidence suggests this could be as good as it gets, one of the most frustrating talents of a generation.
Michael Cox, editor at Zonal Marking, commented on Adem Ljajić: "A strange player—looks intelligent on the ball but rarely contributes directly to goals. Looks a little too timid at times."
I'd rather play Valon Behrami than Ljajić because at least Behrami does something.
Ljajić may have more talent in his opposite foot than Behrami, but the Swiss has won back possession 214 times this season.
Ljajić averages 0.9 shots per game and a paltry one key pass per game, which explains his lack of productivity.
His compatriot Matija Nastasić, who plays at centre-back, has scored more goals than Ljajić this season.
It's one thing for Eden Hazard and Neymar to have attitude issues, but it's a major problem when someone as useless as Adem Ljajić has attitude issues.
Sinisa Mihajlović once slated Ljajić for eating too much Nutella.
Ljajić's insubordination to Delio Rossi was disgraceful, but Rossi's actions were indefensible.
It was almost a done deal, and the general opinion was that £10 million for Adem Ljajić, who had world-class talent, was a sound investment.
I don't believe work permit was the real reason for the transfer collapsing, because Ljajić could have been signed and loaned out to Royal Antwerp.
For Sir Alex Ferguson to say, "Ljajić will join us next year," and then not sign him, points to management identifying a major red flag in Ljajić.
If only they passed that information to Fiorentina.
Please read Why United Shouldn't Sign Kagawa.