by Ryan Bailey

CHARLOTTE – Charlotte MLS has named Zoran Krneta as Sporting Director, the club announced Tuesday.

Zoran, recognized worldwide for his ability to identify talented players and place them in top professional leagues around the world, will direct the club’s soccer operations. He is the club’s first technical staff appointment.

“We have been preparing for several months in anticipation of being awarded an MLS expansion franchise,” said Tom Glick, president of Tepper Sports and Entertainment. “Zoran is the executive we sought to lead us in our pursuit of building a consistently high-performing team, including winning in our first season. We are delighted to confirm his appointment and also to have him on the case immediately as we begin our journey.

“Zoran is a highly talented soccer professional and leader who will help us build a club that identifies and attracts talent from around the world to join us in Charlotte while also investing in the development of young players in our home here in the Carolinas.”

Zoran has placed players who were on rosters of clubs in Major League Soccer, England’s Premier League and Championship, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A.

Real Madrid’s stars Luka Jovic and Andriy Lunin, Lazio’s Sergej Milinković-Savić (who was recently the subject of a $100m bid from Manchester United) were discovered by Zoran’s global scouting network as teenagers and offered to clubs in the Premier League.

Zoran also identified New York City FC’s Brazilian striker Héber in the lesser-known Armenian league and has represented Chicago Fire Designated Player and 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic.

“This is a hugely exciting time for Charlotte and I am thrilled to be part of this new MLS club,” Zoran said. “David Tepper’s vision, together with the knowledge and expertise of the technical and executive team we are assembling, demonstrate that our goal will be to compete for the MLS Cup title starting from year one.”

Zoran will be responsible for all on-field operations, recruiting coaches and professional support staff, identifying and signing players for the MLS roster, and creating a youth development academy and related youth player initiatives.

“Tom Glick identified Zoran as an ideal fit early on,” Charlotte MLS owner David Tepper said. “He is innovative, understands and believes in our vision and is well-connected globally. We are looking forward to building a first-class, competitive club our fans can be proud of.”

Via the global sports agency Zoran co-founded in 2005, Star Sports & Entertainment, he brokered and negotiated contracts for more than 150 soccer players across the globe. His high-profile deals included England international John Stones’ move to Everton, then subsequent record-breaking $66m move to Manchester City, and Champions League and three-time Premier League winner Branislav Ivanovic’s contracts with Chelsea.

With only one year to prepare before Charlotte MLS officially opens preseason camp for the 2021 season, Zoran embraces the amount of work ahead of him and his colleagues.

“I don’t see myself getting much sleep over the next 12 months,” Zoran added. “That being said, I relish the challenge that lies ahead and welcome you all to join the fantastic ride that awaits us.”

Zoran will officially begin his duties once the United States government approves his work permit.

Charlotte MLS plans to announce additional members of the soccer operations team in the coming weeks.