Atletico Madrid have signed Serbia Under-21 striker Ivan Saponjic from Benfica on a three-year contract, the club have announced. Neither club disclosed the fee paid for the 21-year-old but the deal is reported to be worth in the region of €8 million (£7.1m/$9m).A physically imposing forward, Saponjic will provide an extra attacking option for coach Diego Simeone alongside Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and record signing Joao Felix, who also arrived from Benfica for €126m (£113m/$141m). Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare But while the Portugal international starred in the club’s Primeira Liga triumph in the 2018-19 season, Saponjic played for Benfica B after joining from Partizan Belgrade in January 2016 and spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with Belgian club Zulte Waregem.He joins fellow new faces Marcos Llorente, Hector Herrera, Felipe, Lodi and Joao Felix at Atletico, with star forward Antoine Griezmann widely expected to complete a €120m (£107m/$135m) switch to Barcelona.The 21-year-old Serb joined Partizan from Sloboda Uzice as a youth player in 2013, working his way up to the first team where he made his competetive debut in 2014.He scored 11 times in 42 appearances for the Serb giants, starring as they won the Serbian Cup in 2015 and forcing his way into the under-21 side of the Serbian national team.He failed to make an appearance in Benfica’s first team after swapping Belgrade for Lisbon, but managed to net eight times in 40 appearances for the B team before loaned out to Belgium in 2017.His chances of making the first team at the Wanda Metropolitano will be boosted if Griezmann finally makes his long-awaited move to Camp Nou in the coming weeks, with the France World Cup-winner believed to have agreed terms to move to the Liga champions. Last season’s runners up Atletico are looking to make up an 11-point gap to Barca next term, as they aim to win a first league crown since Simeone guided them to a shock title success in 2014.
According to Ambassador Murari Raj Sharma of Nepal, who launched the report at UN Headquarters in New York, the survey, especially forecasts for 2003, was based on data for the first three quarters of 2002. By early March of this year, neither the war in Iraq nor the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) had occurred.”The impact of these events on the forecast made in the survey is still a subject of considerable debate and uncertainty,” he told a press briefing on the launch of the “Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2003,” which was compiled by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The report highlights the performance of regional economies in the past year, provides a brief trend analysis and some projections for 2003.The report states that despite the weakening of the global economy, the region performed surprisingly well in 2002 – 2 per cent higher than the previous year – largely due to surging intra-regional trade, fiscal stimulus and low interest rates.While the survey had projected the 5 per cent growth to continue prior to the new domestic and global developments, it is now unclear how the economy will fare this year as it is tied to the intensity and duration of military action in Iraq and its ripple effects, particularly on energy prices. Asia-Pacific imports 40 per cent of its energy.Compounding matters further is the recent outbreak of SARS. In addition to the health challenges it is posing in the region, the illness is undermining the tourism and travel industry. Ambassador Sharma said there were fears that a prolonged outbreak could extend the damage beyond those two industries.How well Asia-Pacific withstands these stormy conditions also hinges heavily on how the economies of developed countries perform, especially the United States, Japan and the European Union, which together import half of the regions export products, Ambassador Sharma said. He also stressed that there was “no consensus on how the regional economy might be affected.”