Reports in Italy claim that Manchester United are keeping tabs on Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic but face competition from Inter Milan.
Gazzetta Dello Sport report that United have sent scouts to watch the Serbian central defender despite uncertainty over who the new long-term manager will be.
Harry Maguire’s form has been an issue this season and there have to be doubts over whether Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe will still be United players by the end of the summer.
Milenkovic has inevitably been compared to countryman and former United great Nemanja Vidic, but according to ESPN, he bases his playing style on another former Red Devil in Gerard Pique.
His name looks familiar…
The Independent reported in October 2018 that then United boss Jose Mourinho was keen on Milenkovic and he took a personal scouting mission to watch the defender.
United did not get the deal done then, and Mourinho was sacked by the end of the year, to be replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
There were links with the defender during Solskjaer’s reign too; Di Marzio claimed United were knocked back in January 2019 for Milenkovic too, with Fiorentina looking for £45 million.
Calciomercato reported during Euro 2020 that United held ‘strong interest’ in the centre-back.
Fiorentina were in total chaos then after Gennaro Gattuso quit as manager after just 22 days in charge.
If United were going to pounce, then would have been the time – but they didn’t. It did not work out too badly as United signed Raphael Varane instead, but it seems interest persists in the defender.
Contract situation could aid United
Last summer, Milenkovic signed a one-year contract extension until the summer of 2023, which means that Fiorentina will get some money for him but not as much as they might have done.
Inter reportedly believe that around £12.5 million and £2.5 million in annual wages is a bid which would entice their Serie A rivals.
That is more than affordable for United and would leave budget free to improve other areas of the team – and there are plenty that need it.
Antonio Rudiger appeals as a relatively low-cost central defensive option but the Serbian is another with a dwindling contract and at 24, is a more long-term option than the German.
Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.