Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was quick to emerge as one of the top-rated youngsters in European football thanks to his impressive displays for Serie A outfit, but his rapid rise to prominence can hardly come as a surprise for anyone.
The 22-year-old Serbia international has been going from strength to strength and is currently enjoying a great deal of attention even outside of the borders of his native country and of the one he is currently plying his trade in as well.
Juventus Join the Pack
The exciting talent struck his seventh goal of the season on Tuesday, helping Lazio to a 4-3 aggregate victory over city rivals AS Roma in the Coppa Italia semifinals.
According to various reports in Italy, Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta has decided to take matters into his own hands and step up the interest for the Serbian starlet, before any of the European suitors opt to make a move.
Marotta is supposed to hold a meeting with Lazio president Claudio Lotito to discuss a possible summer deal which could be worth as much as €30 million, which is the reported release clause in young Serbian’s contract with Lazio.
Milinkovic-Savic’s agent, former Chelsea and PSV forward Mateja Kezman, insists that his client is keen to remain at Stadio Olimpico and continue his development.
“He is completely dedicated to Lazio,” Kezman was quoted.
The Serbian starlet still has three years left in his deal with Lazio and if any conclusions were to be made judging by his career’s trajectory so far, it won’t be too long before this world-class prospect goes on to join a top European club.
Who is Sergej Milinkovic-Savic?
Born in a small city of Lleida, some 100 miles west of Barcelona, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and his brother Vanja – a goalkeeper for Polish club Lechia Gdansk who was prevented from hitting it off with Manchester United due to a failed work permit – are children to professional athletes and always appeared to be destined for sports success.
Sergej’s father Nikola was a professional footballer who played in Serbia, Spain, Portugal and Austria, whereas his mother Milana was a top basketball player in Yugoslavia.
Like his brother, Sergej inherited much of his mother’s height (191cm) which in no way comes as a hindrance to his football career. Milinkovic-Savic boasts physique which makes him an all-round midfielder who is equally adept to play in an advanced midfield position – just behind the attacking line – or deeper back in the holding position.
Milinkovic-Savic plays best when he is given freedom to push forward and create chances for his teammates. Sergej is a player who is very comfortable on the ball and who plays with a unique confidence, which may initially hit you as a surprise given his tender years.
However, even though he is only 22, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic boasts significant international experience, which hardly makes his rapid rise to prominence with Lazio at the highest football level a surprise.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s family returned to Serbia when his father Nikola ended his professional career, and Sergej and his brother eventually joined the youth academy at Serbian Super Liga heavyweights FK Vojvodina.
A single season after his professional debut at Vojvodina, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was drafted by the Belgian Pro League side KRC Genk who shelled out €1 million for then the 18-year-old. Difference in quality between the Serbian and Belgian football proved to be too little of an obstacle for Sergej, who scored 5 goals in 24 appearances in his debut season at Genk.
Simultaneously with his club exploits, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic made a huge break with the Serbian national team.
Having been an integral part of Serbia’s Under-19 side which won the 2013 European Championships in Lithuania, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s biggest international success came in 2015 when the midfielder led his team to World Cup glory at Under-20 championship.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s performances were enough to keep Liverpool’s Marko Grujic out of the squad on road to glory as Sergej went on to become a force for his side, driving his team forward with a string of great performances.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic received the Bronze Ball for his performances in New Zealand and it was believed that it would be only the matter of time when the talented midfielder will break it into the biggest stage.
Senior Squad Snub
Milinkovic-Savic explosive performances for Serbia’s youth setups were enough to convince Serie A heavyweights Lazio to fork out €9 million to bring him from Genk as Biancocelesti were only one of the number of clubs to recognise his potential, quality and class.
The one who doesn’t seem to appreciate Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s talents to full extent is Serbia national team head coach Slavoljub Muslin.
The young Serb never kept his desire to play for the senior side a secret as he relishes an opportunity to play alongside his idol Nemanja Matic, but Slavoljub Muslin has other ideas for now as he claims Sergej ‘does not fit’ into his side.
Slavoljub Muslin recognises Sergej’s talents and success at Lazio, but claims he ‘does not need him’ at the moment.
“I hope Milinkovic-Savic will continue to make progress and that I will call him one day, when I think he is needed. I hope future results will confirm my choices”, Muslin said.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is being professional about the Serbia manager’s choices. He will continue to work hard and wait for his shot, which has to come sooner or later.
In the meantime, the young midfielder remains the integral part of his club Lazio and will undoubtedly be on the pitch on Sunday as well when Biancocelesti play host to Napoli in one of the biggest Serie A games this weekend.
You can back Lazio to stun the high-flying Napoli at 17/10 betting odds.
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