West Ham United owners David Gold and David Sullivan overlooked the answer to David Moyes’ centre-back hunt this summer after failing to sign Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic.
The Hammers were linked with a move for the towering 6 ft 5 sensation by the Daily Mail towards the end of September after failing in their efforts to lure one of St Etienne’s Wesley Fofana or Burnley’s James Tarkowski to the London Stadium.
It was proposed that an offer of £20million could be tabled for Milenkovic, who has previously been tracked by some of Europe’s elite including Manchester United but doubt already stood that GSB’s offering may not have met the Serie A outfit’s valuation.
Ultimately, West Ham did not sign the 22-year-old Serbia international and ended the international market without landing a centre-half to solve Moyes’ need for greater depth in the role, leaving efforts now focused on acquiring a late arrival from the Championship before October 16.
Moyes had made landing a new central defender a key priority for the east London club this summer and would have been frustrated to see Milenkovic thrive on Thursday night for Serbia as Ljubisa Tumbakovic’s men edged past Norway 2-1 after extra-time.
Milenkovic started the affair as the right-hand option of a three-man backline as he picked up his 21st senior international cap, and stood out compared to his defensive colleagues Stefan Mitrovic and Aleksandar Kolarov.
The Fiorentina mainstay – who has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of his side’s three league fixtures to date – registered an astounding 90 touches in Serbia’s European Championship Play-Off victory to book a date with Scotland to decide who reaches next year’s postponed tournament.
Milenkovic put his vast time in possession to good use on Thursday night with 69 accurate passes from 75 attempts, including six of eight long balls, while standing up defensively with five clearances, two interceptions, three tackles, and he won 10 duels via a mix of four out of five ground battles and six out of 11 aerial contests, per SofaScore.
Mitrovic, on the other hand, had far less to show for his efforts in the centre of the backline with just one clearance, tackle, block and interception plus just two ground duels won and two aerial duels attempted over the 120-minute affair.
With West Ham still needing a new centre-half, Gold and Sullivan must unearth a gem from the Championship to make up for missing out on Milenkovic.