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Hyping up the next five Michu-esque signings: Part 1 - Antonio Rukavina (9th October, 2017)

Even though [Michu] had just one season of greatness in the EPL, for me his impact on the league has been larger than that. It was that, suddenly, the Premier League took notice of a market that produced brilliant players, who resided at clubs that would take any money thrown their way. Not a few months after his move to Swansea, this was the coverage La Liga teams were getting:



So what happened to those five players?

Right-back Antonio Rukavina moved to Spain in July 2012 and signed with Valladolid, on a three-year deal, thus joining his countryman and former manager Miroslav Đukić. In his two seasons at José Zorrilla, Rukavina collected 71 appearances and scored twice in the top flight of Spanish football.

In 2014, after Real Valladolid's relegation, he joined Villarreal. Now 33, he is a back-up to Mario Gaspar.

But his rise to the top tier of Spanish football starts in the third division of Serbian football.

Rukavina started out at his local club Bežanija, making his senior debuts in the 2002-03 season, as they won promotion to the Second League of Serbia and Montenegro. He also helped them win the 2005-06 Serbian First League, thus earning promotion to the Serbian SuperLiga.

In December 2006, two players moved to Partizan from Bežanija - Rukavina and Žarko Lazetić. Both players signed four-year deals in January 2007. Under newly appointed manager Miroslav Đukić, Rukavina immediately established himself as a first team regular, scoring three league goals from 15 appearances in the second half of the 2006-07 season. He was subsequently named the team's captain ahead of the 2007-08 campaign.

Two seasons after his move to Partizan, in January 2008 Rukavina signed for Borussia Dortmund. However, in February 2009, Rukavina moved on loan to 2. Bundesliga side 1860 Munich until the end of the season. He was permanently transferred to 1860 Munich in June 2009, with Sven Bender making the opposite move in lieu of a transfer fee. He became a regular at the German side, playing in 120 games and establishing himself as a starter once again.

Three seasons later, Rukavina joined Valladolid. And Spain got its first sight of the buccaneering full-back, terrorizing the left side of defenses...

Watch out for part 2, where I talk about Patrick Ebert

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He was short. Very short. At 5'3", the left winger sometimes played in an over-sized shirt.

The ball never left his feet. His feet were tiny but they had magic. A dizzying array of body feints, close control, direction changes and sheer speed, often resembling a roller-coaster, left opposition defenders outwitted. And yes - sometimes, he frustrated. Sometimes, he was irregular.

But when he turned up, the world was at his feet.

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