The future of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been one of the most intriguing aspects of this summer’s transfer window, which will open next month.
The Serbian international has enjoyed a fantastic campaign with the Rome giants, whose failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League has put his future firmly in the spotlight.
A high asking price
Last week, Sky Italia reported the 23-year-old had attracted the attention of Manchester United, although the supposed asking price of €110 million had cooled any immediate interest.
Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are two other European giants who have been linked with the talented midfielder and seasoned watchers of Serie A will understand why.
Milinkovic-Savic has established himself as a 'complete midfielder', one who blends a range of attacking qualities alongside the physicality and bullishness of a holding player.
Renowned as an excellent passer, the Serb also offers a significant goal threat. He can score wonderful goals from range or with his head, he also possesses excellent movement and tactical awareness.
Having joined Lazio from Genk in 2015, the midfielder is superb at holding up play, using his physical presence to shield the ball outside of the penalty area, allowing his attacking teammates to get into goal scoring positions.
Lazio are reluctant to sell
Understandably, the Italian club are adopting a tough position over their player. It is often hard to tell if these stances are totally genuine or a show to push up the price of a possible sale.
“I can’t confirm or deny anything. We’ll see what happens in the market,” Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale told RMC Sport.
“The style of Lazio is to keep our heads down. If an obscene offer arrives, it’ll be evaluated, but he won’t determine what we do in the market.”
Lazio president Claudio Lotito has proclaimed: “I turned down €110m for Milinkovic-Savic on August 29, so I don’t know how much he is worth now, but I can tell you €100m isn’t enough.”
Whether the Serbian international is a realistic transfer target at Old Trafford remains to be seen. He certainly possesses all the attributes needed to thrive at that level yet a clear issue appears to be the similarity in his play compared to Paul Pogba.
Both offer a similar style and there are no previous examples of boss Jose Mourinho accommodating two players in this role in his previous sides. Perhaps that is why the Red Devils are reluctant to follow up their initial enquiry.
Delaying the inevitable
Italian transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio is known to possess a high success rate when it comes to reporting on the football market with his site’s analysis drawing a similar conclusion and a firm offer from Manchester United is unlikely to be forthcoming.
It is impossible to tell if Lazio can keep hold of their man long-term. Italian sides see Champions League football as offering vital revenue as they do not have access to the same level of televised funding that Premier League clubs enjoy.
The future of Milinkovic-Savic is one worth monitoring closely.
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