By 90Min
July 25, 2019

Manchester United have been seeking reinforcements for their squad all summer long, with a number of areas requiring Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's attention.

Central midfield is one area that Solskjaer is known to be keen on strengthening - particularly after Ander Herrera departed Old Trafford to join PSG on a free transfer. A number of targets have been mooted, but one man appears to have jumped to the head of the queue.

That man is €75m-rated Lazio star Sergej Milinković-Savić.

Marco Rosi/GettyImages

The Serbian international signed for I Biancocelesti in 2015, but he burst onto the radar of Europe's elite during a breakout 2017/18 season, where he scored 12 goals in 35 league appearances. 

He formed a mesmerising attacking trident with former Liverpool midfielder Luis Alberto and striker Ciro Immobile, as Lazio narrowly missed out on a top-four spot on the final day of the season.

By the end of the campaign, he had become the most admired and feared midfielder in Serie A, and attracted attention from a host of top European clubs. His expectation and desire to move on and test himself at a higher level meant his performances dropped over the 2018/19 season, but he still claimed the coveted prize of Serie A's Top Midfielder. 

Solely looking at the 24-year-old, you could be tricked into thinking you're signing a bustling tough-tackling holding midfielder, given his height and powerful physique.


However, you would be mistaken. He's so much more than that. 

TIZIANA FABI/GettyImages

A tiresome adage that followed Peter Crouch around is that 'he has a great touch for a big man.' Milinković-Savić takes this label to another level. He possesses an inexplicable ability of wriggling out of tight spaces surrounded by two or three opponents, and yet still come out with the ball at his feet and leave defenders on their backsides. 

He glides around the midfield, like a shark stalking his prey, waiting for the right moment to strike. The Serb's eye for a pass is unnervingly impressive, and his execution matches his vision equally. He has the awareness and technique to spring counter attacks with an inch-perfect wedge over the top, or a precise drive through an unsuspecting defence.

He's provided seven assists over two seasons, and created plenty more opportunities for wasteful teammates. He also has a great touch for a big man.

Milinković-Savić is the king at receiving a long punt up-field, and controlling it expertly using his chest, knee or even his head, and then setting off an attack deep in the opposition's half. 

His close control is frightening, and he has a knack of producing an intricate back-heel or flick to release a teammate in on goal. 

We can't ignore his goals either. 

In 2017/18, the Lazio talisman held his own 'Goal of the Season' competition, scoring a collection of long range dipping screamers, towering headers and cool predatory finishes. 'The Sergeant' pulled Lazio out of the mire on countless occasions, dragging his over-achieving side kicking and screaming up the Serie A table. 

The final string to Milinković-Savić's bow is his natural strength, and never-say-die attitude. The Serbian is a mountain of a man, and uses his physical prowess to his advantage in the tackle. Rarely does he go in to a challenge and come out without the ball at his feet. He's not a defensive player, but does his duties manfully. 

Valerio Pennicino/GettyImages

A word of warning for Red Devils' fans, however. He is not a holding midfielder. He is not even at his best as a centre-midfielder. Milinković-Savić thrives in the advanced role behind the striker, dropping deep when he wants to collect the ball and spin to create an attack. 

The Serbian international is a fluid player, who needs freedom to work his magic and cannot be lumbered with too many responsibilities. 

Sound familiar? 

Milinković-Savić's arrival could signal the end of Paul Pogba's Man Utd career, after only three years back at the club. Pogba has struggled to reproduce his scintillating form at Old Trafford, surrounded by players of a lesser ability and carrying the burden of the entire midfield. 

It is difficult enough to allow one player complete freedom in an underachieving team and still win matches. Two players? Impossible. 

The Lazio man must be used to his strengths, or he will suffer the same Man Utd fate as many before him; unable to express himself and frustrated at those around him. Deploying him in a deeper role nullifies his best attributes, and for a complete midfielder with so much to offer, it would be a transfer tragedy. 


However, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær has made it clear that he wants to continue the counter-attacking football he began to instil last season, albeit with a higher intensity press. 

Milinković-Savić is the perfect foil to feed a pacy striker such as Marcus Rashford, playing alongside diminutive Spaniard like Juan Mata

Marco Rosi/GettyImages

Man Utd could be about to sign one of the world's best midfielders once more, but they must learn from their mistakes and allow Milinković-Savić's star to burn free and bright, before it dulls and fades in the Manchester sky. 

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