Manchester United and Real Madrid open talks for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – reports

Manchester United and Real Madrid have reportedly met the Lazio hierarchy this summer for Serbian international Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. It was last season that clubs considered to be part of the European elite started to notice the 23-year-old, his style of play and abilities on the pitch. Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, with reports carried by The Sun, has claimed that both clubs, said to be the richest in the world, stepped up their interest in Milinkovic-Savic by entering talks on Friday.

The report states that Lazio president Claudio Lotito and sporting director Igli Tare have both spoken to Milinkovic-Savic’s agent, former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman, about the future of the 23-year-old. United have been hotly linked with the Serbian since the end of the season, with reports going back to late in 2017. However, the fee for the player, which is likely to be upwards of £120 million, a stumbling point for both clubs, will probably be demanded by Lazio.

United have already signed Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk this summer and with it being suggested, albeit within the media, that United manager Jose Mourinho will play a midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, and Fred, it would leave you to assume that Milinkovic-Savic would in effect be a benchwarmer in an already packed midfield which includes Marouane Fellaini, Scott McTominay, Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay and even Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Andreas Pereira.

Logic would dictate that bringing in another midfielder may only happen if one, or more, players already at the club could be leaving. Pogba has been linked with an exit in the media before the FIFA World Cup, with the Frenchman playing one of the biggest games for his country against Belgium in St Petersburg this evening, KO 19:00 BST, to earn a place in the final of the tournament this summer. However, United seem to be less keen to sell the Frenchman, just two years after his return from Juventus for a then world record fee.

Ander Herrera has been linked with a return to Athletic Bilbao this summer, where the players former club would make him the highest earner, based on the fact they are a club predominantly dealing with Basque players. If Herrera left, you would presume it would be a simple shoe-in for the likes of Pereira, McTominay or even Fosu-Mensah. If Fellaini had not signed a new contract, United would have needed to bring in a new central midfielder this summer, maybe not so much now.

Last season, Milinkovic-Savic made 48 appearances for Lazio, only six of those as a substitute, scoring 14 goals, 12 in Serie A, assisting six more. Lazio just missed out on a place in the UEFA Champions League after being beaten by Inter Milan on the final day of the season, pushing them into the UEFA Europa League for the upcoming season. During the FIFA World Cup this summer, Milinkovic-Savic played all 270 minutes for his country, exiting at the group stage, which is what Mourinho wanted so Matic could have a rest this summer.

The player has suggested that he would be more than happy to remain in Rome this season, which has given his club a great negotiating tool, in that if no clubs paid the demanded fee, Milinkovic-Savic will remain at the club for the new season. Unless things have changed during the 23-year-olds downtime after the World Cup, it does not look like he will be leaving this summer, unless the high fee is paid, which both United and Madrid could afford. It does make me think that this is just a story that could keep rumbling on this summer, with no outcome other than the player staying.

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