Serbian international midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has dazzled the entire football world with his Lazio displays over the course of the last two years.
The 22-year-old has consequently emerged as a transfer target for a host of Europe’s greatest clubs with the list of of suitors getting longer almost daily. Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and most recently Paris Saint-Germain are all said to be keeping close tabs of the Lazio starlet.
The world has already taken a good notice of the Serbian but what is it exactly that makes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic so special?
With his father Nikola Milinkovic a former professional footballer and mother Milana Savic a former professional basketball player, Sergej was blessed with a sport gene – together with his brother Vanja who plays as a goalkeeper for Torino.
Born in the Spanish town of Lleida where his father made 60 league appearances during two years at UE Lleida, Sergej and his siblings – in a somewhat uncommon pattern found in Serbian customs – adopted both his father and mother’s last name.
As a boy raised in a sports family, he was blessed with a strong physique and a tall presence and an obvious natural talent for his father’s sport of choice.
Pin it to a nostalgic feeling and a close relation to their country of origin, Sergej’s parents decided to let their boy make his first football steps at one of Serbia’s biggest clubs – Vojvodina. Third in stature behind Crvena Zvezda and Partizan, Vojvodina has always been recognized as a farming ground for young talents.
Leaping Towards Prominence
A single season in the first team during which Sergej helped Vojvodina win the Serbian Cup in the club’s centennial year saw Belgian side Genk come calling. Leaping towards prominence, the talented midfielder continued to make huge waves and alerted Serie A sides Fiorentina and Lazio in 2014.
As a boy born and raised far away from his homeland, Sergej was forced to grow up quickly and embrace the harsh reality of life faster than his peers. Constantly on the move since his birth in Spain, toddler years in Austria across a brief spell in Serbia and then Belgium, Milinkovic-Savic grew into a confident boy, well aware of his football ability.
Despite all the confidence and strength of character, Milinkovic-Savic was still an emotional youngster when he was getting ready to move to Italy and had to disappoint Fiorentina in the 11th-hour when he turned his back on Viola and moved to Lazio instead.
Fiorentina refused to wait on him to ‘consult with his girlfriend’ but subsequent reports claimed that Sergej felt bad for previously making a promise to sporting director Igli Tare and therefore went back to fulfil it.
Fiorentina’s loss ended up being Lazio’s gain.
World-Star in the Making
The total of 74 competitive appearances for Biancocelesti during his first two years in Rome has been more than enough for Sergej to announce his immense potential and huge quality.
The 2017/18 season is when Sergej Milinkovic-Savic really blossomed and, according to many, already outgrew the Serie A. Following 34 Serie A displays and four goals he scored during the last term, Milinkovic-Savic has thus far made 16 league appearances and already bettered his scoring tally with 5 goals for Lazio.
Inzaghi gave him more freedom at the centre of the park and, with all the confidence he is receiving from his boss, Sergej is repaying with world-class performances.
Milinkovic-Savic is a commanding presence and the heart of his team. A natural box-to-box midfielder, Sergej is strong on the ball and comfortable in possession. Physically strong and technically gifted, Sergej is almost impossible to be dispossessed and it is exactly his ability to keep the ball and bring it rushing forward that’s been terrorizing the rivaling defenses.
Sergej has had many brilliant moments already this season but a brace against Atalanta last time out really highlights his importance for Lazio.
Milinkovic-Savic demonstrated great responsibility in play as he scored two brilliant goals to keep his team in the running against resilient Atalanta and make sure Lazio get a fighting chance to eventually claw back for the 3-3 draw.
It was exactly that last game that pushed him under the limelight yet again with scouts from all across Europe said to have been watching him from the stands.
Milinkovic-Savic is not to be bothered with all the hype surrounding him. He got used to it already and will not be leaving Lazio just for the sake of a new challenge. Even though young and at the beginning of his career, Milinkovic-Savic is already an honourable man and intends not to disappoint the club that gave him so much.
Manchester United, by several reports, have been identified as his most probable next generation given the admiration he feels towards Jose Mourinho.
Paris Saint-Germain are, however, willing to put that admiration and Sergej’s beliefs to the test with a reported €170 million bid which is currently being whispered around in Italy. If such reports turn out to be true, the French champions would make Sergej Milinkovic-Savic the third most expensive footballer in the world and the most expensive Serb in the history of this beautiful game.
Where do you think should Sergej Milinkovic-Savic go after Lazio?