Miralem Pjanić, pictured paying against Lecce on 26 June, looks set to see out his playing days at Barcelona after signing a four-year deal with the Catalan club.
Photo: sbonsi / Shutterstock
The former boyhood player for FC Schifflange will play for FC Barcelona starting next season.
Miralem Pjanić has come a long way since he played football for FC Schifflange as a young boy. The Bosnian international on Monday agreed to swap one iconic club, Juventus, for another, Barcelona in a deal valued at €60 million. What’s more, the Catalan team has slapped a €400 million buyout clause on anyone who wants to tempt Pjanić away from Camp Nou before the end of the four-year contract that will take him to the age of 34.
The deal announced on Monday sees Barcelona’s 23-year old Brazilian international Arthur (Arthur Henrique Ramos de Oliveira Melo) head to Turin for the tune of €72 million. Both players will remain with their respective clubs until the end of this protracted season.
Pjanić has been with Juventus since 2016, when they signed him for €32 million after a successful five-year spell at Roma during which he emerged as one of the best midfield players in Europe. Prior to that he had played for Lyon in the French Ligue 1, who had signed him from FC Metz, the club just across the French border from Luxembourg to which he had been attached since the age of 14.
Starting from zero
Pjanić arrived in Luxembourg as an infant when his family fled their home town of Tuzla just before the outbreak of the Bosnian war. His father, Fahrudin, was a player for FK Drina Zvornik in the Yugoslavian third division when a friend in Luxembourg suggested he could come to the grand duchy and play for FC Schifflange as a means of escaping the brewing conflict in Bosnia. In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Pjanić expresses his admiration for his parents who came to Luxembourg with a few suitcases and next to no knowledge of the country or its languages. “They started from zero and managed to make a lovely family, still all together after 27 years together living there. It’s a beautiful thing. Today they live really well in Luxembourg,” he told the paper’s resident Italian football reporter Paolo Baldini.
The young Miralem soon showed he had the potential to be even more talented than his father, and as a youngster playing for Schifflange he started to attract attention from abroad. He joined in Metz on a young contract at the age of 14 and made his professional debut for the “grenadines” at the age of 17 against Paris Saint-German and scored his first goal in Ligue 1 a few months later.
The following summer, at the age of 18, Pjanić decided he wanted to play international football for Bosnia-Herzegovina rather than Luxembourg, although he had by then represented the Red Lions at Under 17 level. He helped guide Bosnia-Herzegovina to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil and scored in their 3-1 victory over Iran at the tournament.
At Juventus, where he has won three Serie A titles, Pjanić has lost out as the free-kick specialist to Cristiano Ronaldo. But his other forte is the way he keeps things simple, playing a solid role in midfield and creating, and sometimes scoring, goals for the team. “The simplest things are often the hardest. Not everyone can do them,” he told The Guardian. Hopefully that is an attribute that Barcelona’s fans will appreciate over the next four years.