By Jerry Mancini.
Back in July 2015, Lazio’s sporting director Igli Tare acquired Sergej Milinković-Savić from Belgian Club, Genk.
The Serbian was purchased for €15m and has since gone on to become one of the best signings made by Tare.
When the signing happened, very few knew about Milinković-Savić or the potential he could bring to a club. Since 2015, the central midfielder has become one of Lazio’s most reliable midfielders.
His time with Lazio has shown signs of progression and regression, but he has been an asset and has helped the club win trophies.
He netted seven goals in the 2018/19 Serie A season, compared to 14 in the previous campaign.
Returning from injury before the Coppa Italia final versus Atalanta back in May, Milinković-Savić delivered in the 80th minute. He scored the decisive goal in the Coppa Italia from a Lucas Leiva corner. Many were hoping for more from the midfielder compared to previous seasons, and he salvaged it with a crucial goal.
In addition to his goals during 17/18, Milinković-Savić showed an ability to make clean passes, dribble well and read the game very well.
When he battled for the ball in the air he had the ability to fight off his defender and win the one on one battles. He also showed these strengths earlier this year in the Coppa Italia final, and overall has a lot to offer, considering he plays a box-to-box type of game.
While his game could be beneficial to many clubs, it also has weaknesses.
At times he has shown that his discipline could be better. For instance, last season he was sent off for dissent versus Chievo, and he has the tendency to give away fouls on a regular basis, so his tackling could use improvement. While he has had ups and downs, it could be said that he’s yet to show his full potential.
In the summer of 2018, Lazio had to decide whether they will sell their star midfielder or keep him. This question has surrounded the club for the past two seasons and continues to linger on.
With the winter transfer window nearing, the 24-year-old’s name is always in the rumour mill and was one of the talking points this past summer, being linked with high profile moves to Juventus, Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United.
“Manchester United appear to be edging closer and closer to the €80m (£71m) signing of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savić,” reported 90mins.
But Lazio didn’t make a deal with Manchester United in the summer transfer window and will now need to consider any future offers.
Is it smart to sell a player during one of their less impressive seasons? Milinković-Savić is signed until 2024, so the club has no rush to sell. Depending on whether the player himself decides to leave or stay beyond this year, another season should seriously be considered as it could be beneficial to both the club and the player.
If he continues to have a good season his market value should rise. In the event that this does happen, the team would earn more than they have already been offered in the summer transfer window.
Holding on to one of the best midfielders in the game could also allow Lazio to be competitive and give the team a chance to compete for a spot in the Champions League. It’s important to have patience as, if Lazio takes this route, it could pay off for the club in the future.
If Lazio were to sell Milinković-Savić, a plan should be in place for his replacement. This would not be an easy task for Tare as the Serbian brings a lot of value to the team.
While it’s great to earn a profit on star players, the replacement should be beneficial to the club. Although Milinković-Savić contract was extended until 2024, his wages are expected to rise. Lazio owner Claudio Lotito must decide either to increase his pay and, if not, he would need to consider the fact that he could lose his midfielder in the near future.
As most Lazio fans know, until Lotito receives the right figure, Milinković-Savić will not being going anywhere. “Paris Saint-Germain are ready to offer €65m plus [Layvin] Kurzawa,” reported Il Messaggero, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy Lotito.
The price might be steep but having a player such as Milinković-Savić, Lazio should take full advantage of the market. Lotito has decided to be patient and not buying into any teams who are not meeting his requests.
Hopefully, it doesn’t come to this, as it truly would be sad to see the Serbian leave.
As reported by the Mirror, Milinković-Savić stated: “I am where I am, and I want for nothing at Lazio. I don’t think much about the transfer market. All sorts of things were written about me but I know where my mind is and who I have a contract with.”
If Milinković-Savić decides to stay with Lazio long-term, Lotito should feel confident in signing his star player to contract renewal given the player’s feelings toward the club.
Until it does happen, he’s still a Laziali and that’s something which should be appreciated.