Manchester United have been handed a potential boost in signing Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic following the comments made by Maurizio Sarri last night.
The Red Devils have been long-term admirers of the Serbia international, and there has already been plenty of speculation linking him with a move to Old Trafford this summer.
A formal approach has yet to be made, but United should be on alert after Sarri’s comments. Milinkovic-Savic scored a last-gasp equaliser for Lazio in a 2-2 draw at Juventus yesterday.
Following the game, Sarri said that he is convinced that Milinkovic-Savic won’t be joining another Serie A outfit based on the discussions with club president Claudio Lolito.
He said: “Speaking with president Lotito, I am convinced that if Milinkovic leaves, which is not easy after the words I heard from him, he will not go elsewhere in Italy.”
Milinkovic-Savic will enter the final two years of his Lazio contract this summer, and appears likely to be sold as he has no plans of putting pen-to-paper on an extension.
Juventus have been talked about as a possible destination, but judging by Sarri’s comments, it would come as a surprise if the Bianconeri are able to finalise a transfer deal.
They may also not afford him with a price tag of around €80 million on top of a healthy pay rise. The Turin outfit are currently operating with a player wage cap of €7m per year.
This should boost United’s prospects of landing Milinkovic-Savic, who would be a quality upgrade in midfield. The Serbian has had another top season for Lazio with 11 goals and 12 assists from 46 appearances.
Defensively, he has also been heavily involved with 1.9 tackles and 0.9 interceptions per Serie A game while winning an average of nearly three aerial duels.
With such attributes, he could seamlessly adapt to the Premier League. At 27, he is the prime of his playing career and would provide the perfect balance between attack and defence with his box-to-box ability.
The stumbling block for United could be the lack of Champions League football. The midfielder is eager to play in the elite European competition while winning silverware in the peak phase of his career.
United are not in the Champions League next term, and there are also no assurances that they could end their trophy drought which has already extended for a fifth campaign after this season’s failure.
With a big spending spree planned, United will be in the mix to land Milinkovic-Savic, but they will have to ward off competition from some of Europe’s top clubs including Paris Saint-Germain.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and WhoScored.com