West Ham United are among the teams interested in Nikola Milenkovic, according to emerging reports in Italy…
Calciomercato claim the Irons have taken their first steps towards signing the Fiorentina colossus, alongside Manchester United, as the pair have inquired over his services ahead of the summer transfer window.
It’s thought that the Serie A outfit would be looking to seal around €30m (£26m) and that fellow Premier League rivals Spurs and Everton are also evaluating the Serbia international, though their interest is not as advanced as the aforementioned duo.
Milenkovic’s most likely destination is the Premier League and the report suggests that he has already ‘packed his bags’ ahead of the new season.
Whilst a place in next year’s Champions League is now looking out of reach, David Moyes’ side should qualify for the Europa League, which would top off a fine season in East London.
But if they are to continue to progress at this rate and even contend in the competition, then reinforcements will be paramount. Of course, a new striker is going to sit high on the priorities, given an injury-prone Michail Antonio is their only senior option, but a new central defender shouldn’t go amiss.
It leaves Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson, who are likely to be Moyes’ first-choice pairing anyway, though when the Scotsman switches to a three-man defence, we’ve seen left-back Aaron Cresswell drop in there, though his squad-leading seven assists shows why he’s needed on the flank.
And thus, a move for Milenkovic makes the world of sense – if anything, he’d be a major upgrade, given his age, experience and quality.
The 23-year-old could well be a perfect fit for the English top-flight as he cannot shake off the lofty comparisons to Man Utd legend Nemanja Vidic.
“Milenkovic is better than Vidic with the ball at his feet, and he is much calmer on the field,” Mozzart journalist Dejan Stankovic told ESPN. “He is the most talented centre-back Serbia have had since Vidic, and they definitely have one thing in common – both are fearless.”
Ability with the ball at his feet (85.7% passing accuracy) is certainly an attractive attribute to have in England and is also a vast improvement on both of Moyes’ current first-choice duo.
Whilst his 3.1 aerial duels won, 1.5 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game this season, via WhoScored, far exceeds that of Ogbonna (2.3 aerials, one tackle and interception per match) and Dawson (2.8 aerials, 0.5 tackles and 1.2 interceptions).
“Milenkovic has [the] physical characteristics of a beast. He reads the game well, plays the ball, and should have a great career ahead of him,” added his former Partizan coach Ivan Tomic to ESPN.
On the above evidence, £26m for a young, imposing 6 foot 5 monster with bags of potential is a pretty good deal and Milenkovic appears to have all the attributes to thrive in England.
Ogbonna came from the Serie A too, and was a success, so the Fiorentina man can do it too. Moyes must urge GSB to sanction this move in the summer.