Esmir Bajraktarevic isn’t reminiscing on whirlwind debut season
After his debut season, the youngster is aiming for more first-team minutes in 2023
Esmir Bajraktarevic has burst onto the scene in New England but he isn’t satisfied with his early success in his career.
In 2022, Bajraktarevic became the ninth Homegrown player in Revolution history. He made his MLS debut, earned his first MLS start, and earned multiple call-ups to United States Youth National Teams. Then after his first MLS season, he headed over to Europe and had a training stint with AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
Some would consider that a banner year for a 17-year-old but Bajraktarevic is just focused on improving in 2023.
“Yeah, I obviously look back on it but the main thing I try to do is just learn from it,” he said. “I don’t like to reminisce on my accomplishments. I usually just take it and learn from it whether it was good or bad and then just move on because there’s no point living in the past.”
So far 2023 has treated the 17-year-old nicely. Bajraktarevic said that preseason is going well and he feels really confident.
“Well, one of my goals is definitely obviously to be playing first-team games and to start getting goals and assists,” the 17-year-old said. “I feel like last season you don’t really expect much out of a rookie player but I feel like this season I have a lot of high expectations on me so I’m expecting a lot for myself and I think the coaches are expecting a lot out of me as well.”
Veteran center back Andrew Farrell took note of Bajraktarevic’s confidence entering preseason camp.
“I think Esmir going over to the Netherlands and playing with AZ Alkmaar, I think he’s come in really confident. It’s not even the attacking side of the ball for [Esmir, Noel Buck, and Tico Rivera], it’s the defensive work they’re now doing. They understand now that it’s hard to be an attacking player if you’re not willing to help out the team on the defensive side of the ball. Those three guys–Noel, Esmir, and Tico–have come in really sharp, really fit, and are doing the dirty work on both sides of the ball. I think a lot of guys like that. I think the coaching staff is really noticing that.”
Bajraktarevic told The Blazing Musket while his focus is on the upcoming Revolution season, that he hopes like many players to play in Europe one day. The youngster got a taste of that life during his training stint with AZ.
“It was a great experience, the 17-year-old said. “I think I did really well, especially with the way that I play. It’s a very technical team, very technical league so I think it was good.”
Back in New England, Bajraktarevic got to welcome a fellow Homegrown signing to the first team this offseason with Jack Panayotou receiving a first-team contract. While Panayotou has spent more time in the area and the Academy compared to Bajraktarevic, the 17-year-old was still able to help his fellow Homegrown adjust to life on the first team.
“I’ve kind of helped him get involved with the team, getting to know everybody. Of course, when he got signed I was really happy for him because it’s always nice to see an Academy player get called up,” Bajraktarevic said.
While the youngster is having success, the coaching staff and Bajraktarevic know that he still has some maturing to do as a soccer player. You can’t fast forward in life but Bruce Arena wants to see some mature play from Bajraktarevic in 2023.
“I think the main thing with [Bruce Arena] is just having me mature as a player because a lot of the time when I get the ball I’m really eager to get forward. I still kind of have like a young players mindset and in this game sometimes you have to learn to be more mature and more patient and know when to doc certain tricks and when to go forward. So I feel like that’s just the main thing with him is trying to mature me as a player and obviously consistency as well because when you are a young player, you can have one really good game or you can have one really bad game and he’s just trying to keep me level headed and keep my performances consistent.”
With the recent signings of players such as Noel Buck, Panayotou, and of course Bajraktarevic the future is quite bright in New England. Fans will be happy to know that even after early success, the 17-year-old is motivated to perform even better in 2023.