Manchester United are monitoring the performances of Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic ahead of a potential summer approach, Gazzetta dello Sport (today’s edition, page 4) claims.
The Serbian was on the radar of the Red Devils when Jose Mourinho was their manager, but there has since been continued speculation linking him with a Premier League move.
It is now reported by Gazetta dello Sport that Manchester United have had scouts tracking his performances at the Artemio Franchi Stadium. However, they are not alone in the race with Inter Milan also interested.
Milenkovic was fancied to leave Fiorentina on a cut-price deal last summer, but he ended up signing a one-year renewal until June 2023 in the quest for bigger offers. He is unlikely to renew once again.
With Fiorentina not having much room to negotiate, he could be prised away for £12.6 million, as per the report. Inter consider the fee as ‘feasible’ but there is growing English interest with United leading the pursuit.
Milenkovic has been an undisputed starter for La Viola. The centre-back has been instrumental in their European push this season with several stand-out performances.
The 24-year-old has registered 1.7 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per Serie A appearance while also winning three clearances and 3.2 aerial duels in the process.
While he has been solid defensively, he is also comfortable with the ball at his feet. Milenkovic has completed 90 per cent of his passes with 4.5 long balls on average.
The Serbian was valued in upwards of £25m few seasons ago, but could be available on the cheap this summer as La Viola won’t want to lose him for free next year.
With the reasonable outlay, Manchester United should be in the mix to sign him, considering they have had plenty of concerns at the back with Harry Maguire this term.
The United captain has endured a difficult campaign by his standards. He has been guilty of positional and unforced errors which have cost the club dearly.
It may not necessarily lead to his departure, but the Red Devils could be eyeing reinforcement without spending much of their transfer budget for the summer.
Milenkovic could be an ideal player to partner Raphael Varane. Among the reserves, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones could be offloaded with Victor Lindelof staying put.
Bailly and Jones have barely played over the course of the campaign. The former is said to be ‘irked‘ by Maguire’s regular role and sees his future elsewhere.