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Muhamed Besic 21

Although Bosnia-Herzegovina's maiden World Cup Finals in the summer of 2014 ended disappointingly with elimination from the group stage in Brazil, Muhamed Besic was one of their players to catch the eye alongside his better-known teammates like Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic, particularly in their first match against eventual finalists Argentina.

Everton manager, Roberto Martinez, was behind the microphone alongside ESPN commentator Derek Rae that evening and he got to see the 21-year-old midfielder execute quite impressively his man-marking directives on one Lionel Messi, at least until the "Atomic Flea" crucially got away from him to score what would prove to be the winner in the second half.

A tough-tackling, occasionally ill-disciplined but mobile and dynamic operator, Besic was likely one of the players at the World Cup already on Martinez's watchlist and, having seen him first-hand, he moved to sign the German-born Bosniak once the tournament was over.

The deal was a protracted one, though, drawn out by reported complications over sell-on clauses between Ferencváros TC, his former club, Hamburg SV and his youth club, Tennis Berlin as well as the distribution of agents' fees, but it was eventually concluded in late July for a fee believed to eventually be worth £4m to the Hungarians.

If media speculation is to be believed, Martinez beat off competition from the likes of Sevilla, AC Milan and West Ham United for Besic, for whom Swansea City had also agreed a fee with Ferencvaros, but the player ultimately preferred Goodison Park as his destination.

Born in Berlin, Besic turned down the chance to represent Germany at youth level because of his preference to play for the country from which his parents had emigrated at international level and became the youngest player to play for Bosnia-Herzegovina when he made his debut as 17-year-old in November 2010.

He made his Bundesliga debut for Hamburg the same month but disciplinary problems and an apparent falling out with manager Thorsten Fink led to him leaving Germany for Hungary where played 47 times for Ferencváros. Though he emerged as a defensive midfielder on the world stage, he was more often employed as a centre half in Budapest, underscoring his versatility and supporting his reputation for an ability to read the game.

Besic's comparative youth when he signed obviously made him one for the future at Everton but with the Blues back in European competition in 2014-15 for the first time in five seasons, there would be plenty of scope for Martinez to rotate him with Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and Darron Gibson as he grew into life in the Premier League.

His introduction to the English game proved to be a protracted one, with Martinez asserting that it would take time for him to adapt to the pace and physicality of the games.  Fears over his indiscipline proved to be a little over-blown as he seemed to keep the worst of his aggressive tendencies in check, although this may have helped to repress the more expansive side of his game, which he exhibited in flashes during 23 appearances in all.

His hopes of playing a larger part in his second season at Goodison Park were initially hampered with what turned out to be a hamstring injury in the first pre-season game at Swindon, a complaint he would aggravate just nine minutes into his first league start of the 2015-16 campaign against Chelsea. (His replacement, Steven Naismith, went on to score a surprising but very welcome perfect hat-trick in the 3-1 win.)

It would be almost two months before the Bosnian returned to full training but he was back in contention to come in as cover for McCarthy again at the start of the New Year when he exhibited a new-found composure and maturity with a couple of magnificent performances to start 2016.

Unfortunately, injury struck again soon afterwards when he strained a hamstring in his other leg but Martinez's faith in his future role as an important member of Everton's first team was underscored at the end of February 2016 when he was offered a new 5½-year contract that tied him to the Blues until June 2021.

With his somewhat belligerent attitude, he became something of a cult figure among a section of the Everton fanbase, but his performances on the field still markedly failed to live up to the promise of his performances at World Cup 2014, and his second season proved to be even more disappointing than his first at Everton. 

Running around enthusiastically and waving his fists did not adequately compensate for an inability to tackle without fouling, a lack of positional sense, and he spent most of the season out injured.  Hopefully the coming of the Ronald Koeman era would re-energize this promising but hugely erratic young dynamo, who presumably was the one to lay claim to the shirt number of the released Leon Osman. 

Besic had been positioning himself well enough in pre-season games under the new manager Ronald Koeman when disaster struck again after just 12 minutes of him coming on as a second-half substitute in Wayne Rooney's testimonial at Old Trafford. An awkward twist of the knee in an innocuous tackle saw him signal for a replacement before hoping off the pitch. Sacans later revealed the extent of the damage, and projected recovery period of six months that would see him miss most of the new Premier League season.  The star Tweeted the crushing news himself, saying he was devastated.

FactFile

Squad number 21
Position Midfield
Nationality Bosnian
Born Berlin
Date of birth 10 September 1992
Height 5' 10"
Joined July, 2014
Joined from Ferencvaros, Hun.
Signed by Roberto Martinez
Transfer fee £4M
Contract duration 5 + 2 years
Contract expires June 2021
Debut (Sub) v Chelsea (H)
30 August 2014
Full debut v Swansea City (A)
23 September 2013
Previous Clubs Tennis Berlin
Hamburg SV
Ferencvaros

Everton Career

Season Squad No. League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2014-15 17 15 (8) 0 5 (3) 0 20 (11) 0
2015-16 17 7 (5) 0 4 (1) 0 11 (6) 0
2016-17 21 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
  Totals 22 (13) 0 9 (4) 0 31 (17) 0

Note: Everton Career Stats on ToffeeWeb are updated after every game.




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