Liverpool have fallen well below the expected standards this season, and now face an uphill battle to reassert their position and challenge for major silverware after nearly going all the way last term.
The effect of such a relentless and taxing campaign have indeed been felt, with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds now sixth in the league and seven points adrift of Manchester United in fourth place, and it is absolutely paramount to the Merseyside outfit’s success that effective reinforcements are acquired during the ongoing January transfer window.
And now, according to 90min, Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic is among the defensive targets highlighted to bolster the fold, and a move could be issued in the coming weeks.
The £91k-per-week titan’s signature could be considered a far shrewder investment than the likes of Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez; two high-profile names touted with a move to Anfield across recent weeks.
The 25-year-old Serbian has made 17 appearances across all competitions this season for La Viola, scoring two goals and registering one assist from his defensive duties at the heart of the defence.
And having made 189 showings across all competitions for the Italian Serie A side since his arrival from homeland outfit Partizan Belgrade in 2017, the dynamic defender’s influence and aptitude has been nurtured, now refined and on a pedestal that allows his name to rightfully fly at the very top of the transfer rumour mill.
As per FBref, the £44m-rated star ranks within the top 13% of defenders across Europe’s top five leagues for shot-creating actions and the top 14% for aerials won, highlighting his imposing presence and ability to instigate positive play from the foot of the field, something that will entice Klopp as he assesses his options in the current market.
And, as per Sofascore, with his average rating at 7.03 in the league and 6.87 at the 2022 World Cup with Serbia, there is a level of consistency that has somewhat evaded Liverpool’s backline this season, with the 22 goals shipped this term only four below last season’s total tally of 26, with the Reds yet to conclude the first phase of the campaign.
Able to flourish both as a central defender and a right-back, the “beast” Milenkovic, as once dubbed by Partizan coach Ivan Tomic, would be a welcome upgrade on Joe Gomez, who been the source of criticism on several occasions this season, making an error leading to a goal and conceding a penalty across his nine starts in the Premier League.
It’s also worth noting Gomez’s extensive injury record, hampering his progress and his manager’s confidence in his ability to maintain a regular starting berth in the squad.
While the 25-year-old England international is still a solid, versatile option for his manager, but someone of the “fearless” – again lauded by Tomic – Milenkovic’s ilk, displaying the assurance and composure to flourish as a regular first-team starter in Klopp’s system, could bolster the defensive ranks and serve as the catalyst for change.
At present, Gomez does not appear to be that man.