Manchester United are eyeing a move for Nikola Milenkovic, according to Daily Mail. The report states that the Fiorentina right-back has been included in Jose Mourinho’s transfer shortlist as he aims to shore up his side’s defence in the upcoming January transfer window.
Milenkovic has been enjoying a fruitful season under Stefano Pioli, having featured in all of their league games thus far. But what is he all about? Here is a SWOT analysis of this Serbian international.
Unlike most other right-backs in modern football, Milenkovic is a defence minded fullback, who excels on the defensive front. Standing at 6ft 5 inches, his imposing presence at the back makes it difficult for wingers to get past him in the wider positions.
He is quite agile as well considering his tall frame and is an excellent reader of the game, having averaged 1.3 interceptions per game this season. His intimidating figure also lends him an advantage in aerial duels, with the defender averaging over five headed duels per game, significantly more than any other Manchester United fullback.
However, Milenkovic’s positional play is by far his biggest asset as the 21-year-old rarely gets caught out of position, largely thanks to awareness while his dogged defending also allows him to operate as a centre-back if needed – making him a versatile defender, who can be useful to any Premier League side.
As you would expect, Milenkovic’s excellent defensive work-rate minimizes his offensive output. The Serbian international is close to awful in terms of ball-distribution and rarely manages to pass in between the lines.
In addition, he is often reluctant in moving forward, which is understandable given his nature of play. But at the same time, his crossing and overall creative output from wide-areas aren’t pretty impressive either, which is something that definitely needs to improve if he is to make a mark in the Premier League.
Milenkovic could be an interesting option for United. The 21-year old’s mentality could potentially make him an ideal fit under Jose Mourinho’s tactical philosophy.
Most of the modern teams prefer one-sided overload, meaning the Serbian can be utilized as a defensive fullback, where he can play his natural game while shifting into an auxiliary centre-back in defensive stances, which will surely improve the overall balance of the United backline.
As iterated earlier, Milenkovic lacks the offensive qualities but most importantly, his ball distribution is not quite there yet which might point to a lack of finesse and technical quality. Thus, he definitely needs to improve his overall gameplay in order to thrive in the Premier League.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored