With today’s confirmation that Fabian Balbuena will leave the club on a free transfer at the end of this month, it’s no surprise to see us being linked with moves for another centre-back this summer.
Earlier this week it was reported that we were considering a move for Swansea City’s highly-rated centre-back, Ben Cabango, which is a move that certainly falls in line with David Moyes’ transfer strategy.
And now, in a somewhat more surprising development this week, we are currently the front-runners in the race for Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic.
The 23-year-old, who is valued at £22.5m by transfermarkt.com, is also wanted by Manchester United and AC Milan but, in a report from La Nazione, we’re currently the club showing the most interest in bringing the Serbia international to the Premier League.
Given the calibre of clubs reportedly interested in him, managing to pull this one off would certainly represent something of a coup by David Moyes, although this summer we do have a dangling carrot in the shape of European football to help attract better quality players.
That said, Milenkovic is a very highly-rated centre-back across Europe and it’s no surprise that he has a lot of interest in him.
Fiorentina finished in lowly 13th place in Serie A this season and it was being reported by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport (via The Sun) in May that La Viola were prepared to sell him to the highest bidder this summer.
That same report coming out of Italy reckons he could be prized away for just £21m, which would prove to be a bargain for a player of Milenkovic’s quality.
According to WhoScored.com, Milenkovic’s strengths include aerial duels and concentration, while his style of play specifically says he’s an indirect set-piece threat, which would suit us perfectly given our impressive goalscoring record from set-pieces in 2020/2021.
What is also impressive is his return of 11 goals in 133 first-team appearances for Fiorentina, which highlights his goalscoring threat as a centre-back.
For £21m, Milenkovic should be a no-brainer signing for David Moyes but, if the aforementioned European giants are also interested in him, then it’s likely a bidding war will ensue and he’ll go for a lot more than that in the end.
Still, it seems just being in the Europa League group stages, rather than just the qualifiers, is getting us the conversations with some of Europe’s better players, which is encouraging to see.