Why Sergej Milinkovic-Savic could be an inspired signing for Chelsea
According to the Metro (h/t Sunday Mirror), Chelsea are set to go all out in their pursuit of Serbian international midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, with manager Fran Lampard identifying the Lazio star as one of his top transfer targets.
The report adds that the Blues could make a formal approach for the 24-year-old if they win their appeal against the ongoing transfer ban, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport set to deliver the verdict later in the month.
The 24-year-old rose through the youth ranks of Vojvodina in his homeland before moving across the continent to join Belgian heavyweights Genk in 2015.
Impressive returns in his debut season in the Belgian top-flight paved the way for a move to the Italian Serie A with Lazio in 2016 and the central midfielder has gone from strength to strength over the past three seasons, establishing himself as one of the mainstays of his club’s midfield.
Having racked up an impressive tally of 34 goals and 24 assists in 179 appearances for Lazio in all competitions so far, the 13-cap Serbian international has emerged as one of the most sought-after central midfielders in Europe in recent years, and Chelsea’s interest in his services certainly strikes the right chords.
Standing at 6ft 3in with a towering frame, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has illustrated the versatility to excel in both defensive and box-to-box roles in the middle of the park, with the Serb widely regarded as one of the most complete midfielders in the continent at the moment.
As per whoscored, the 24-year-old boasts of a pass success rate of 76.6% in the Serie A this term, including 1.4 key passes, 3.3 successful long balls, 1.8 tackles, 2.3 shots and 1.1 dribbles per game, figures which are a testament to his excellent all-round game as a central midfielder.
To put things into perspective, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is currently one of the best midfielders in Europe and while Chelsea might have to part with a massive amount of cash to sign him, the Serbian’s arrival at Stamford Bridge could go a long way towards transforming the Blues into a formidable unit in the Premier League.
Notwithstanding the fact that Chelsea have benefitted hugely from the incorporation of several academy graduates in the first-team, one does get the feeling that the Blues would eventually need to push for some marquee signings when the transfer ban is lifted.
With Lampard showing the courage to afford Jorginho more freedom in a holding midfield role, the Italian has improved by leaps and bounds in terms of his overall contribution to the team this season, while Kovacic has also come out of the shell to churn out some consistently impressive displays in the middle of the park.
Despite Kovacic’s upturn in form this season, it is hard to overlook the fact that the Croatian has failed to find the net even once in 69 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, which is definitely a red flag for someone who is profiled as a box-to-box midfielder.
The likes of Kovacic and Jorginho have done exceedingly well to cover for N’Golo Kante, who has found himself in and out of the team due to his struggles with injuries.
Ross Barkley, on the other hand, came under scrutiny for his lacklustre displays before succumbing to an injury, which is expected to rule him out of action for a few months.
Mason Mount has been an absolute livewire in the middle for the Blues, with Lampard rotating the influential youngster between box-to-box and wide attacking roles in his preferred 4-3-3 system.
The academy prospect has carved out a reputation for himself as a good all-round creative midfielder, however, one cannot help but feel that Chelsea need more goals from their central midfield cavalry if they are to push on for greater heights under Lampard.
To that end, someone like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has an excellent record in the Serie A in terms of goal contributions from the midfield, certainly fits the bill and his arrival could possibly add that much-needed X-factor to Chelsea’s midfield.
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Ruben Loftus-Cheek, of course, is expected to provide a genuine goal threat from the midfield when he returns from his spell on the sidelines but Milinkovic-Savic is world-class, and tough competition for places is something that all managers crave for.
All in all, Chelsea should leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of the Serbian international as and when the transfer ban is lifted.