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Nikola Milenkovic: Things to know about the Serbian defender

By Michael Lee
Serb Milenkovic is much sought after
Serb Milenkovic is much sought after / Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
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It feels as though many of Europe's top clubs are on the lookout for a new centre-back.

It's the kind of mass hunt that has the relatively smaller sides worried, with their talent firmly in the sights of the big dogs.

Fiorentina will be one of those who will be concerned, with their Serbian central defender Nikola Milenkovic linked with several teams across the continent.

He has been capped 22 times for his country
He has been capped 22 times for his country / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

But just who is the coveted centre-back? Here is everything you need to know about Milenkovic...


1. Versatile defender

Milenkovic joined Fiorentina in 2017
Milenkovic joined Fiorentina in 2017 / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Milenkovic is capable of playing at both centre back and right back, which would add flexibility to anyone's squad.

The right-footed Serbian stands at 6'5, which makes him a dominant presence at set pieces as you would expect.


2. Thrived in Italy

Milenkovic has scored on eight occasions for Fiorentina
Milenkovic has scored on eight occasions for Fiorentina / MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

After impressing for his local side Partizan Belgrade, Milenkovic made the move to Tuscany and Fiorentina in the summer of 2017 for a fee believed to be in the region of €5m.

He's chipped with double digit goals since donning the colours of la Viola, but his defensive skills and leadership qualities are what makes him stand out from the crowd.

Quality performances in Italy have made plenty sit up and take notice.


3. Nemanja Vidic comparisons

Milenkovic has been compared to the great Nemanja Vidic
Milenkovic has been compared to the great Nemanja Vidic / Ian Walton/Getty Images

As you would expect with any promising Serbian defender, Milenkovic has been compared to the great Nemanja Vidic.

Mladen Krstajic, his coach at the 2018 World Cup, called the young defender a 'new Vidic' and praised Milenkovic's composure, tenacity and sound ball control.

Strong and an adept one on one defender, it would seem such comparisons are not misplaced.


4. Previously scouted by Manchester United

Mourinho's United were linked with Milenkovic
Mourinho's United were linked with Milenkovic / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

From all the details we have provided so far, it should be no surprise that Milenkovic caught the eye of Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese was reported to have personally attended a Fiorentina game in 2018 to scout the young defender.

Manchester United were keen but decided to spend £80m on Harry Maguire instead.


5. Impressed at the 2018 World Cup

He impressed in Russia in 2018
He impressed in Russia in 2018 / VI-Images/Getty Images

Appearing for his country at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Milenkovic made a solid impression in an underperforming Serbia team.

He played in all three group games and made 34 successful tackles, the most by any player during the tournament's opening round.

He also impressed with his positional play despite defeats to Brazil and Switzerland. Having only matured and improved since then, it is clear why clubs like West Ham would be interested in his services.


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