Montenegro hotshot Stevan Jovetic has opened the door for a big-money move to England by declaring his love of the Premier League.
According to the Daily Star the Fiorentina striker is the top summer target of Arsenal and Manchester City after smashing 12 goals in 23 league games for the Serie A high-fliers this season.
And while insisting he is in no rush to quit Italy, where he has been plying his trade since 2008, he does admit a switch to our shores would definitely appeal in the future.
Jovetic, 23, who has a £25million buy-out clause in his Fiorentina contract, said: “It sure is nice when you are interesting big clubs like Arsenal and Manchester City.
“It feels good because the English game currently has probably the strongest league in the world.
“I’m very comfortable in Italy but the Premier League is at the top of the football world – and perhaps the best.
“We will see what happens in the future.”
If those comments are not enough to have Gunners chief Arsene Wenger or Eastlands counterpart Roberto Mancini racing for the chequebook just yet, they are cause for optimism.
City reportedly have first option should he opt for the English top flight.
But it is no given that Jovetic will exit Serie A – even if he does walk away from his current club, where he is the vice-captain.
Italian giants Juventus, who are cruising towards another domestic title, are also chasing his signature.
One thing certain, though, is the spotlight will very much be on Jovetic come Tuesday night when he lines up for Montenegro against England in an absolute crunch World Cup qualifier.
Not that he is bothered being the focus of attention – in fact, quite the reverse is true.
The former Partisan Belgrade man is relishing the opportunity to further enhance his glowing reputation by shooting down Roy Hodgson’s boys.
Jovetic, who has cracked 10 goals in 21 appearances for his country, claimed: “There is no pressure on me. “On the contrary, I love these big games and they motivate me all the more to do well.
“I don’t believe it will affect my game in a bad way at all.”
That could spell trouble for England’s depleted rearguard ranks.
With no Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jagielka or Gary Cahill, Hodgson’s central defensive options are seriously limited.
And that is something Jovetic’s strike partner on the world stage, Mirko Vucinic, hopes to expose at the tiny 12,000-capacity stadium in Podgorica.
Neither man played in Montenegro’s Euro 2012 qualifier with England 18 months ago, which ended 1-1 and with Wayne Rooney sent off. Both were injured.
National skipper Vucinic, 29, said: “England are still one of the best teams and they start as favourites to win this match.
“But the situation is completely different when it comes to the group standings.
“That means they have to come and attack us.
“We have a stronger selection of players this time than in the Euros – and England have a weaker defence because some of their players can’t play.
“But they still have one hell of an attacking player in Wayne Rooney – so I expect it to be an interesting, exciting match.”
The refusal of Manchester United defender Ferdinand to return to the international fold at such a pivotal stage in the race to reach the finals in Brazil has sparked uproar among unhappy England fans.
Initially, Ferdinand claimed his long-term back problem was behind the withdrawal.
Yet it now transpires the ex-Three Lions captain will be in Doha, watching the must-win clash as a TV pundit.
The club-versus-country debate, of course, is utterly irrelevant in fiercely patriotic Montenegro.
Since breaking free of Serbia’s rule in 2006, they have rocketed to 26th in FIFA’s rankings.
“We are an old country with a young football association – and our country’s past is something we are very proud of,” said former Roma star Vucinic, who has been capped 31 times.
“The fact we have never qualified for the World Cup finals or European Championships is extra motivation for us to keep getting results and to keep improving.
“For Montenegro, a match with England is spectacular.
“No one wants to miss it.”
As for England’s persistent failures over the last 50 years to go all the way at a major tournament, and the increasingly resigned feeling that we never will, Vucinic is baffled.
The free-spirited Juve dangerman, whose trademark is a lethal long shot with either peg, reckons those fortunes could be about to improve under experienced coach Hodgson.
Vucinic, who averages a goal every two games for Montenegro, added: “It’s hard for me to find the answer why England are not doing better.
“It’s strange because, for me, the Premier League is one of the very best leagues in the world.
“Maybe with Roy Hodgson now in charge, things will get better.
“He has the experience of managing in different countries and is a football man through and through.”