Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho predicts greatness for Newcastle new boy Aleksandar Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Aleksandar Mitrovic is destined for greatness. Just ask Jose Mourinho.

At just 20-years-old, the Serbian striker is already renowned across Europe as a striker of immense potential, having caught the eye first for Partizan Belgrade and then Anderlecht.

He’s more mature than before.

The Special One knows a player when he sees one and Mourinho was enthused by Mitrovic when he saw him playing for Serbia two years ago.

Then just 18, the forward starred in front of the watching Chelsea boss as Serbia drew with Croatia in an international friendly, a powerful header giving his side a draw against their rivals.

It was part of a performance that moved Mourinho to comment on the youngster.

“Mitrovic was the best player on the pitch,” said Mourinho. “He managed to keep the ball well and that was the key. That boy has everything to be a European star.”

Now that’s some billing to live up to but Mitrovic has had praise all his career.

He was named among the top 10 talents under the age of 19 in Europe, by a selection of European reporters and became Anderlecht’s record signing when they splashed out five million Euros for his services.

He was a success in Belgium, helping his side lift the Pro League title and Super Cup while scoring 36 goals in just 69 appearances.

But Mitrovic is more than just some bland goalscoring machine. Anderlecht fans took him to their hearts and he became a cult hero at the club with his controversial goal celebrations, tattoos and haircuts as much of his persona as his ability to find the back of the net.

He’s been compared to Mario Balotelli, while his attitude has been questioned at times - including by the Newcastle regime who cooled their interest at one point - and it may be that Steve McClaren has to work a little bit harder on keeping him on the right track.

But his old boss at Anderlecht has no doubts about his workrate and ability.

Besnik Hasi said: “With tattoos and funny haircut he might look crazy but he’s not. He’s a hard worker, someone who gives everything in every single duel. And his level is constantly increasing.

“The last two years his level increased a lot. He took a step forward last year on the football and mental scale. He’s also physically stronger.

“He knows that England is not Belgium. People are stronger and the ball goes faster. But he showed in Champions League that he can be good in tough matches and that he can stay calm and focused.

“Newcastle is a big step forward. I hope he’ll play everything. He can score goals and become a top striker but he first has to settle as a good scorer.

“He’s more mature than before.”

Mitrovic has become the fourth most expensive signing in Newcastle’s history now. Only Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and fellow new boy Georginio Wijnaldum have cost more.

It is the footsteps of his ‘hero’ Shearer that he hopes to follow in, having watched the Newcastle legend as a kid growing up in Serbia. There are similarities between their style of play too - both physically imposing, good in the air, predatory around the box and with a single-mindedness about where they want to be.

Shearer got there, turning himself into one of the most feared strikers in Europe. Now it’s up to Mitrovic to deliver and prove Jose Mourinho was right all along about him.