Adem Ljajić

Adem Ljajić (Serbian Cyrillic: Адем Љајић, pronounced [ǎːdem ʎǎːjitɕ]; born 29 September 1991) is a Serbian professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Beşiktaş and the Serbia national team.

Adem Ljajić
Ljajić with Serbia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Full name Adem Ljajić
Date of birth (1991-09-29) 29 September 1991 (age 29)
Place of birth Novi Pazar, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Position(s) Attacking midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 22
Youth career
FK Jošanica
2005–2008 Partizan
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2010 Partizan 38 (9)
2010–2013 Fiorentina 78 (15)
2013–2016 Roma 61 (14)
2015–2016Internazionale (loan) 25 (3)
2016–2019 Torino 61 (16)
2018–2019Beşiktaş (loan) 27 (9)
2019– Beşiktaş 46 (7)
National team
2007–2008 Serbia U17 9 (1)
2008–2010 Serbia U19 13 (6)
2008–2010 Serbia U21 11 (1)
2010– Serbia 47 (9)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 11 May 2021
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 19:52, 11 October 2020 (UTC)

Ljajić began his career with FK Jošanica, and later Partizan, with whom he made his debut in the Serbian SuperLiga and UEFA Champions League. In January 2010, he was set to join England's Manchester United,[2] but the club withdrew its option to sign him in December 2009.[3] Instead, he joined Fiorentina for a reported fee of around €8 million in January 2010.[4] In August 2013, after three years in Florence, Ljajić joined Roma for an €11 million fee, signing a four-year contract.[5] In July 2016, he was sold to Torino.

Ljajić made his senior international debut for Serbia in 2010. From 2012 to 2014, he was frozen out of the team by manager Siniša Mihajlović for objecting to singing the Serbian national anthem. He was part of the Serbian squad at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Club career


Born in Novi Pazar in the Serbian region of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Ljajić joined Partizan at age 14 in 2005, signing from Serbian lower tier club FK Jošanica.[6] Ljajić was the first player to wear the number 22 for Partizan after Saša Ilić transferred to Galatasaray in 2005.[7] Ljajić made an appearance for Partizan in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League on 29 July 2008 as a second-half substitute.[8] He made a second substitute appearance in the second leg and another substitute appearance in the second leg of the third qualifying round. He scored his first competitive goal for Partizan on 23 November 2008 in a league match against OFK Beograd.

In October 2008, Manchester United had given Ljajić a trial, although no information was given about the length of the trial initially.[9] On 2 January 2009, Manchester United announced the signings of both Ljajić and his Partizan teammate, Zoran Tošić. Tošić would join the club immediately while Ljajić would remain at Partizan for the remainder of 2009, joining United in January 2010.[10]

Despite being unable to officially join the club until January 2010, Ljajić made regular trips to Manchester throughout 2009 to train with the United first team, so the club's coaches could monitor his progress.[10] However, United decided not to take up their option to sign Ljajić due to issues surrounding the club's application for a work permit.[11][12] Following the transfer's collapse, Partizan manager Goran Stevanović claimed the situation had put Ljajić into "psychological shock" but that Ljajić was "handling the situation well".[13] Partizan director of football Ivan Tomić said, "I think that they will regret this decision in future."[13]


Ljajić playing for Fiorentina

On 13 January 2010, Italian Serie A club Fiorentina announced the signing of Ljajić. After passing a medical, Ljajić signed a five-year contract,[14] with Partizan receiving a reported fee of €8 million for the player.[4] Ljajić made his debut in Fiorentina's 2–2 draw away to Cagliari on 31 January 2010, coming on as an 82nd-minute substitute for Manuel Pasqual.[15] However, his first half-season at the club under head coach Cesare Prandelli was spent settling into the new surroundings.

The arrival of Ljajić's compatriot Siniša Mihajlović as head coach saw increased first-team opportunities for Ljajić. He scored his first Viola goal from the penalty spot against Lazio on 18 September 2010, which Fiorentina lost 1–2.

On 2 May 2012, Ljajić was substituted in a match against Novara. His reaction to this substitution was to sarcastically applaud the manager Delio Rossi, who grabbed and attempted to punch Ljajić. Fiorentina announced after the match that Rossi had been dismissed as manager and that they would take proportionate measures against Ljajić. Ljajić's teammate Valon Behrami, who was on the substitutes' bench at the time of the incident, said no one, including him, had heard Ljajić insult Rossi, which disproved Rossi's claims Ljajić insulted his family. Behrami added Rossi should be ashamed for his actions as well as for lying to the media.[16]

Ljajić scored a brace as La Viola beat Internazionale 4–1 on 17 February 2013.[17]


Ljajić signed with Roma on 28 August 2013 for a fee of €11 million, potentially rising to €15 million depending on the club's success, with Ljajić signing a four-year contract.[5] He chose the number 8 jersey, left vacant by Erik Lamela, which Ljajić also used with the Serbia national team. On 1 September 2013, Ljajić made his Roma debut in a match against Hellas Verona, replacing Alessandro Florenzi; Ljajić scored the final goal in 3–0 win. In his first season in Rome, Ljajić scored 6 goals in 32 appearances.

On 30 August 2014, Ljajić made his 2014–15 season debut in a 2–0 win for the Giallorossi over Fiorentina. On 24 September, he scored his first goal of the season in a 2–1 Roma victory over Parma. On 6 December, he scored his first brace for Roma, which allowed Roma to come back and draw the home match against Sassuolo, which finished 2–2. On 26 February 2015, he scored his first goal in the UEFA Europa League for the club, the opener in a 2–1 win away to Feyenoord. He concluded the season with 41 appearances and 9 goals, making him the club's second-highest goalscorer of the season, after Francesco Totti.

Loan to Internazionale

On 31 August 2015, Ljajić signed for Internazionale on a season-long loan, with Inter paying Roma €1.75 million and including an option to make the transfer permanent at the end of the season for €11 million.[18][19] On 1 December 2015, Ljajić scored his first Inter goal in a 2–1 away loss to Napoli.[20]


After Inter opted not to exercise their purchase option, Ljajić was sold to Torino on 18 July 2016 for €8.5 million, plus €500,000 in potential bonuses.[21]


On 31 August 2018, Ljajić joined Turkish Süper Lig club Beşiktaş on a season-long loan.[22] On 29 May 2019, Beşiktaş signed Ljajić on a permanent deal for a reported fee of €6.5 million.[23]

International career

Ljajić (in red) and Brazil's Gabriel Jesus at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Ljajić represented the Serbia under-17 and under-19 teams. On 7 September 2008, he made his international debut for the under-21 squad in a European Championship qualification match against Hungary. On 26 October 2010, it was announced by Serbia coach Vladimir Petrović that Ljajić would receive his first senior call-up against Bulgaria in a friendly match on 17 November 2010.

Ljajić was removed from his country's squad by head coach Siniša Mihajlović after refusing to sing the Serbian national anthem in a 2–0 friendly loss against Spain on 28 May 2012 due to personal reasons.[24] Ljajić previously signed a code of conduct established by Mihajlović that included, among other things, to sing the Serbian national anthem, "Bože pravde" (God of Justice).[25] Ljajić confirmed Mihajlović's statement, also claiming he loves Serbia and that he has a will to play for its national team, but added he must respect himself, implying he was no longer going to play under Mihajlović.[26]

On 17 February 2014, the new head coach of Serbian national team, Ljubinko Drulović, said he would not require players to sing the national anthem but to give their all for their country on the field.[27] Ljajić scored his first goal for the senior side on 7 June 2015 in a 4–1 friendly win against Azerbaijan.

In June 2018, Ljajić was included in the 23-man Serbian squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia,[28] where he played in all three group matches as Serbia was eliminated during the group stage.[29][30][31]

Career statistics


As of 17 May 2021[32]
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Partizan 2008–09 Serbian SuperLiga 2455140336
2009–10 1442082246
Total 389711225712
Fiorentina 2009–10 Serie A 901000100
2010–11 2632000283
2011–12 1513000181
2012–13 281131003112
2013–14 00001010
Total 781591108816
Roma 2013–14 Serie A 2864010336
2014–15 3282071419
2015–16 10000010
Total 611460817515
Inter Milan (loan) 2015–16 Serie A 2533100284
Torino 2016–17 331032003612
2017–18 2761000286
2018–19 10000010
Total 611642006518
Beşiktaş 2018–19 Süper Lig 2790050329
2019–20 2451042297
2020–21 2221010242
Total 7316201028518
Career total 3367331531539883


As of 11 October 2020[33]
International goals
"Score" and "Result" columns list Serbia's goals first.[34]
17 June 2015NV Arena, Sankt Pölten, Austria Azerbaijan2–14–1Friendly
24 September 2015Karađorđe Stadium, Novi Sad, Serbia Armenia2–02–0UEFA Euro 2016 qualification
38 October 2015Elbasan Arena, Elbasan, Albania Albania2–02–0
410 November 2017Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou, China China PR1–02–0Friendly
514 November 2017Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan, South Korea South Korea1–01–1
69 June 2018Liebenauer Stadium, Graz, Austria Bolivia2–05–1
717 November 2018Red Star Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia Montenegro1–02–12018–19 UEFA Nations League C
820 November 2018Partizan Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia Lithuania4–14–1
910 June 2019Red Star Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia4–14–1UEFA Euro 2020 qualification

Personal life

Ljajić praying before a match between Roma and CSKA Moscow in November 2014

Ljajić is an ethnic Bosniak, and a practising Muslim.[35]






  1. "2018 FIFA World Cup: List of players" (PDF). FIFA. 21 June 2018. p. 27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  2. "Exclusive: Adem Ljajic Q&A". Manchester United. 4 March 2009. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  3. "Manchester United end interest in Serbian Adem Ljajic". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 2 December 2009. Archived from the original on 5 December 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
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  8. UEFA Champions League – Fixtures & Results
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  13. Taylor, Daniel; Wilson, Jonathan (4 December 2009). "Manchester United accused of causing 'psychological shock' to Adem Ljajic". Guardian News and Media. Archived from the original on 7 December 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
  14. "Definito l'accordo per Ljajic". ViolaChannel (in Italian). ACF Fiorentina. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  15. "Serie A / Cagliari – Fiorentina". ViolaChannel. ACF Fiorentina. 31 January 2010. Archived from the original on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  16. Behrami: Rosi je slagao šta mu je Ljajić rekao (eng. Rossi lied what Ljajic had said to him
  17. "Fiorentina 4–1 Internazionale". ESPNFC. 17 February 2013.
  18. OPERAZIONI DI MERCATO 31 August 2015 A.S. Roma
  19. "Adem Ljajic joins Inter". FC Internazionale Milano. 31 August 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  20. "Napoli 2-1 Inter Milan". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  22. "Beşiktaş'a Hoş Geldin Adem Ljajic" (in Turkish). Beşiktaş JK. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
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  24. "Sportsday – Monday 28 May as it happened". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  25. "Mihajlović: Ljajić je znao pravila (Mihajlović: Ljajić knew the rules)". The Večernje novosti. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  26. "Ljajić: Volim Srbiju, poštujem sebe" [Ljajić:I love Serbia, I respect myself] (in Serbian). The B92. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  27. "DRULOVIĆ: Ja ću pevati himnu, igrači ne moraju!" [Drulović:I will sing the anthem, the players don't have to] (in Serbian). Telegraf. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  28. "World Cup 2018: All the confirmed squads for this summer's finals in Russia". BBC Sport. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  29. Abraham, Timothy (17 June 2018). "Costa Rica 0–1 Serbia". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  30. Henry, Matthew (23 June 2018). "Serbia 1–2 Switzerland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  31. Das, Andrew (27 June 2018). "World Cup: Brazil cruises into next round with easy victory". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  32. "Serbia - A. Ljajić - Profile with news, career statistics and history". Soccerway. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  33. "Adem Ljajić". European Football. 24 June 2018.
  34. Football PLAYER: Adem Ljajić
  35. "BOŽE PRAVDE: Adem Ljajić se moli Alahu pred utakmicu". (in Serbian). 14 April 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  36. "22 Adem Ljajic". FC Internazionale Milano. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2015.