Manchester United’s transfer window has not gone to plan so far. United have spent the whole summer working on a deal for Frenkie de Jong and it is now starting to look increasingly unlikely that the Barcelona midfielder will not be reuniting with former manager Erik ten Hag in Manchester this summer.
As a result, the Red Devils are closing in on the signing of Adrien Rabiot from Juventus for a fee in the region of £15m. United are now also reportedly also considering making a bid for long-term target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Date of Birth: 27/02/1995 (27)
Position: Central Midfield
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1,91 m (6ft 3in)
Who is Sergej Milinkovic-Savic?Embed from Getty Images
Milinkovic-Savic is a very well-known name to United fans as the club have been constantly linked to the Serbian midfielder over the last few years. Despite Milinkovic-Savic being on United’s radar for many years, a move has failed to ever materialize. He’s been at Lazio since 2015 after joining from Belgian club KRC Genk and has been one of Lazio’s most important players over the years.
According to many reports in England and Italy, United are back in for Milinkovic-Savic this summer as the club desperately attempts to strengthen the midfield before the window closes. According to Samuel Luckhurst, United are considering making a €68m bid (£57.5m) to finally bring the Lazio midfielder to Old Trafford.
Milinkovic-Savic is a box-to-box midfielder and is at his best when he gets forward. He can create and score goals. He registered 11 goals and 11 assists last season in 37 appearances in the Serie A season which is very respectable. His technical ability is outstanding, and he is also calm and composed with the ball at his feet. Whilst his pass completion rate isn’t the highest, that’s because he is a player who takes a lot of risks. However, he is capable of playing passes to split open defences and create clear-cut chances for attackers. He also has a good passing range. The Serbian midfielder is also decent at progressing the ball having averaged 4.70 progressive carries as well as 4.67 progressive passes per game last season.Embed from Getty Images
While Milinkovic-Savic is right-footed, he is also very capable of using his left foot which is a very useful attribute to have especially as a midfielder. Standing at 6ft 3, it’s no surprise that he’s also good aerially and physically strong. That helps in dealing with defensive set-pieces but also makes him a serious threat from attacking set-pieces and crosses – four of his 11 goals in Serie A last season were headers. While United did recruit a set-piece specialist in Christian Eriksen this summer, in moments where Eriksen isn’t on the pitch, Milinkovic-Savic could step and take free kicks having scored seven over the last four seasons.
On top of all of that, the Lazio midfielder is an extremely intelligent footballer with a fantastic work rate. His positional awareness and tactical understanding of the game as well as his very good off-the-ball movement are very impressive.
The Serbian midfielder doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses to his game but could improve on some of his defensive attributes, especially tackling. With that said, his main job is really to get forward and contribute to the attack. He could also improve on his temperament as he does commit quite a lot of fouls.
Where would he fit in at United?Embed from Getty Images
If United signed Milinkovic-Savic, he’d be used as a box-to-box midfielder whose main job will be to contribute to attacks. He’s a threat in the penalty box and also very good creatively. With him and Bruno Fernandes in the midfield though, United will need someone to sit back more and take care of the majority of defensive duties. Adrien Rabiot could do that role as he is decent defensively, but he isn’t really a specialist defensive midfielder. There are also huge question marks over Fred and especially Scott McTominay.
Whilst Milinkovic-Savic would be a solid signing, spending nearly €70m on a 27-year-old midfielder who’s only really proved himself in the Serie A is a risk. With that said though, his work rate as well as being very good physically means he could probably adapt to the intensity and physicality of the Premier League.
However, United have spent the entire summer desperately trying to secure the signing of Ten Hag’s top target De Jong but now looks set to miss out on the Dutchman. That’s why it makes little to no sense that United’s backup plan to De Jong would be Rabiot and Milinkovic-Savic – two players who are extremely different to the Dutchman. It just shows that United never really planned an alternative solution to De Jong properly. With the recent moves the club have made in the transfer market, it looks more and more like United are a desperate club and not really operating with any sort of plan. With that said, Milinkovic-Savic would be a welcomed addition to United’s squad and definitely add a lot of quality but it may be wiser to use that €70m on someone a few years younger than the Serbian midfielder. United have also been linked to the likes of Ruben Neves and also Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans, who’ll be available on a reduced transfer fee this summer as he’s now into the final year of his contract at the King Power Stadium