How Good Is Sergej Milinkovic-Savic? – A Look At The Numbers of The Manchester Clubs’ Midfield Target
Promising Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has emerged as a target for Premier League clubs Manchester United and Manchester City, according to the player’s agent Mateja Kezman (Metro).
“There’s been a lot of interest from several clubs, such as those in Madrid, Manchester and Milan,” Kezman, a former Chelsea player under Jose Mourinho, told Radio CRC, as quoted by Metro.
“But he wants to be happy, to play to keep growing and become one of the best in his role. It’s difficult to see him away from Lazio, where he has started the season very well, but I can’t rule out him leaving.
“If Milinkovic-Savic keeps this up, there will be plenty of contact from different clubs, like there was (in the summer transfer window).
“We’ll see what happens but, for now, what matters is that he’s growing under (Simone) Inzaghi, who’s a great coach.”
It has been a rapid rise in reputation for the Serbian U-21 international, who made the move to Lazio only a couple of years back. Having started off with the academy of Austrian club Grazer AK, he moved to Serbian side Vojvodina, where he progressed through the youth ranks before joining Belgian side KRC Genk in 2014. Having impressed with Genk, where he managed 5 goals and an assist in 24 games, Lazio came calling in 2015.
Since his move to the Serie A, the 22-year old has continued his progression at an impressive rate. Milinkovic-Savic enjoyed a brilliant last season with the Biancocelesti when he managed a brilliant return of 7 goals and 9 assists in 39 games in all competitions and has netted once in 6 games in the ongoing season.
A central midfielder by trade, Milinkovic-Savic has excelled in the box to box role with his ability to impact games at both ends of the field, while he has performed equally well in a No.10 role behind the striker. Standing tall at 191cm, the Spanish-born midfielder has all the physical attributes needed to excel in the Premier League. He is strong, athletic, possesses good stamina and energy levels, and has decent pace as well.
A force to be reckoned with in the air, the 22-year old is an equally strong tackler and produces crunching tackles with very good accuracy. The midfielder has won 2.3 aerial duels per 90 minutes this term and averages 3 successful tackles every 90 minutes, out of 3.5 attempts. Milinkovic-Savic also effects 0.5 interceptions and 0.5 blocks per 90 minutes, highlighting how he influences the game with his defensive work-rate.
Coming to his attacking attributes, the former Genk man has attempted 3.5 dribbles per 90 minutes this term, completing 1.4 of them. While the success-rate might not be the highest, it still indicates the midfielder’s intent to drive his team forward and the confidence he shows in his abilities. Milinkovic-Savic also backs himself to score when in a promising position and isn’t shy of having a go at the goal, as indicated by his 3.5 shots at goal every 90 minutes.
Averaging 1.8 key passes per game, compared to 1.2 last season, Milinkovic-Savic has demonstrated good vision and his assist tally of 7 from last campaign is a testament to the fact that he can create a number of chances for the rest of his teammates.
The 22-year old’s passing was found lacking last season, as he managed 47.1 passes per game, with an average accuracy of 73.1%. However, there has been a stark improvement in his passing stats in the new campaign, attempting 57 passes every game at a much better success-rate of 82.5%. While it is too early in the season to conclude anything, the improvement does highlight that the player is someone who is willing to learn.
Another area that needs improvement is his ball retention ability. He tends to lose the ball upfield. This season, the midfielder has made 2.8 unsuccessful touches and has been dispossessed 2.3 times per game and going forward, he will need to be more secure with the ball if he is to develop into a world-class midfielder.
Good technique, strong physical attributes, and ability to influence things at both ends of the pitch, Milinkovic-Savic certainly has all the traits to excel in European football for a club of the magnitude of Manchester United or City. Sure, there are certain areas of his game that need polishing upon – his passing and ball retention to be more specific, but the early signs are very positive.
Stats Courtesy: WhoScored.com