As Manchester United continue to struggle for results, it is widely rumoured that Jose Mourinho’s side will be in the market for a quality centre-back this January. Two names from Serie A continue to be linked to a move to Old Trafford in Inter’s Milan Skriniar and Nikola Milenkovic from Fiorentina, but who are they?
Milan Skriniar (Here)
Relatively unknown to all but the most die-hard of Serie A fans when he arrived at Inter from Sampdoria at the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign, Milan Skriniar looked like the kind of player that the Nerazzurri have wasted money on in the past.
A superb season for the Genoa-based outfit meant very little when he stepped onto the hallowed turf at San Siro, looking shaky and a understandably unsure of himself. Yet those nerves quickly eased as it turned out that then-sporting director Walter Sabatini had uncovered a real gem.
They had paid just €23 million for the player, a fee that began to look more and more like a bargain as offers said to be in the region of €60 million began to arrive from both Manchester clubs as well as Barcelona. Those fees would be justified for a player equally as confident in the tackle as in his positioning, good in the air and confident in his passing.
Indeed, he completed the most passes (2170) among anyone in a Nerazzurri shirt last term, and became the first Inter outfield player to be featured in every minute of a league campaign since Serie A reverted to 20 teams in 2004/05.
The Slovakian would undoubtedly be a real asset for Manchester United, but Inter seem extremely reluctant to part with such a vital member of their side, even with Financial Fair Play conditions to consider. Skriniar himself has also publicly committed himself to the San Siro outfit, but time will tell whether a move to the Premier League in January will convince him to change his mind.
Nikola Milenkovic (Here)
Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino pulled off a real coup when he secured the signature of unknown defender Nikola Milenkovic from Partizan Belgrade at the beginning of the 2017/18 season. The youngster was not immediately inserted into the first team, however the sudden death of centre-back Davide Astori forced Coach Stefano Pioli to start him much sooner than planned.
Vitor Hugo stepped in for Astori in the heart of the backline, while Milenkovic was played at right back, and some initially nervous performances soon turned to confident displays that would see him called up for Serbia in the World Cup last summer.
Selected for the starting XI at the tournament by Coach Mladen Krstajic, 21-year-old Milenkovic wowed those who watched him on the world stage, and he returned to Fiorentina for the new season full of confidence.
Scoring a superb goal in his side’s opening match versus Chievo, the 6’5” defender has also been able to showcase his talent and versatility defensively, able to switch from right-back to centre-back with ease.
Perhaps he is a little behind Skriniar in terms of experience, but his maturity and obvious talent would certainly serve Manchester United well as rumours suggest they have already approached Fiorentina with a €40 million bid.