What next for Lazio’s Serbian Sensation Sergej Milinkovic-Savic?
It has been, for a majority of the summer so far, one of the biggest transfer sagas of the year. Lazio’s 23-year-old Serbian midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been a wanted target of some of Europe’s most elite clubs: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona and Juventus, to name but a few.
At the end of the 2017/18 season, if you had asked any Lazio fan, they would have told you that there was very little chance that Milinkovic-Savic would still be in Rome by the time the new season had come around.
There is still just over a month left of the window for some countries, yet the deadline for English and Italian clubs is quickly approaching; August 9 and August 17 respectively – with La Liga and Ligue 1 slamming shut on August 31.
Manchester United were, for a large period of time, the favourites for Milinkovic-Savic; yet Lazio president Claudio Lotito’s asking price of around €150 million seemed to discourage the Premier League outfit. There is the possibility of a club include a part-exchange; yet, it is unlikely that any of Manchester United’s players, who would be willing to take the hit to their wages that would come with a move to Lazio, would be accepted by the Serie A side.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, are still said to be interested. Thanks to the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, Madrid find themselves with funds to spend. However, the consensus in the Spanish capital is that they would rather replace Ronaldo than sign a mezz’ala style central midfielder like Milinkovic-Savic. Therefore, for now, the door to Real Madrid for the Serbian appears to be shut.
Juventus; most recently the Turin-based side has been one of, if not the most likely destination for the 23-year-old Serbian. However, the move seems only to be a possibility if Juventus sell their Bosnian central midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who is being watched by Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. Juventus wish to get around €100 million for Pjanic, which would give them the funds to purchase Milinkovic-Savic; if they were to include a counterpart, with Marko Pjaca suggested as a likely name for this.
The other clubs who have been linked are, most notably, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Chelsea. For Barca, it appears as though PSG’s Adrien Rabiot who is their main midfield priority, whilst PSG themselves are considering striking for Pjanic if Rabiot leaves. The midfielder transfer dominos are close to being knocked down, yet Milinkovic-Savic will likely not be moving to Paris, regardless of what happens; nor Catalonia. Furthermore, Chelsea’s interest appears to have ended with the purchase of Jorginho from Napoli, who, although not a similar style of player, has filled the gaps in the West London club’s midfield.
This leaves the final, and potentially most likely, option; for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to remain at Lazio. Lazio president Claudio Lotito has prepared a contract extension for the 23-year-old, which would tie him to Rome until 2023 and see him become the club’s highest earner, at around €3 million per season. Lazio are attempting to push, once again, for Champions League football and if Milinkovic-Savic stays, that acts as a huge statement of intent for the Biancoceleste.