Manchester United have reportedly turned their attention towards Serbian defender Nikola Milenkovic, as they look for defensive reinforcements in January.
Manchester United have cast their eyes on Fiorentina’s Serbian centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, as they seek to strengthen their defensive ranks in the winter transfer window, claims reputed Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.
Manchester United have overseen a disastrous start to the 2018-19 campaign that resulted in Jose Mourinho getting the sack earlier this week. Currently lying in the sixth spot in the Premier League table, a whopping 19 points behind leaders Liverpool and 11 points adrift of the final Champions League qualifying spot, the Red Devils find themselves in a dire situation.
Manchester United’s defence has been in absolute shambles this term. The 20-time English champions have already conceded more goals in the league this season than they did in the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign and currently boast the worst defensive record in the top fifteen of the Premier League.
Apart from Chris Smalling, to some extent, none of the other central defenders on Manchester United’s books have been convincing enough. Eric Bailly has looked erroneous when he has been afforded an opportunity in the first-team, while Phil Jones continues to be a major liability. Victor Lindelof did show signs of improvement after a poor start, but an injury halted his progress.
Manchester United were strongly linked with a move for Tottenham Hotspur star Toby Alderweireld, having missed out on his capture in the summer. However, the Belgian was believed to be a target of Mourinho and with the Portuguese not in charge at the club anymore, the Mancunians have shifted their sights to a much younger option in Milenkovic.
The 21-year-old Serbian, who has been scouted by the Red Devils before, is a product of the Partizan Belgrade academy and joined Fiorentina back in the summer of 2017. Since moving to Italy, the defender has grown leaps and bounds and has established himself as a mainstay at the back for the Viola.
So far in the 2018-19 season, Milenkovic has featured in 15 of Fiorentina’s 16 Serie A fixtures, scoring two goals in the process. The 21-year-old’s rapid growth has seen him become a regular for the Serbian national team as well, with the defender racking up 10 appearances for the Eagles since making his debut in June earlier this year.
While most of Milenkovic’s appearances for Fiorentina this season have come at right-back, the Serbian is primarily a centre-half and that is where he is likely to slot in, should he choose to move to Old Trafford. Nevertheless, his ability to play as a full-back will be an added advantage for the Red Devils, as they look to ramp up their pursuit of the youngster.
Manchester United are not the only club interested in Milenkovic’s services, however, with reigning German champions Bayern Munich too keeping an eye on the Serbian starlet, as they look to revamp their ageing defence.
Milenkovic still has over three years left on his contract with Fiorentina and the Serie A outfit are likely to demand £40 million for their prized asset. The 21-year-old has a bright future ahead of him, but it remains to be seen if he becomes one of the first signings at Manchester United under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.