Manchester United linked to £28 million Valencia midfielder Uros Racic

Manchester United have been linked with Valencia’s Serbian midfielder Uros Racic, 22, who has a £92 million release clause in his current contract which is due to expire in the summer of 2022, as reported by The Sun. Racic is a box to box midfielder, 6ft 4in and a powerful player who is known for his workrate and he defensive power and has been likened to United midfielder Nemanja Matic. United may well be stacked in the midfield ranks right now but an heir to Matic will need to be signed by the club.

Racic signed for Valencia for €2.2 million in the summer fo 2018, signing from Red Star Belgrade. He has been unable to find his feet in Spain though and has played for Valencia’s B team, and loaned to both Tenerife and Famalicão. Despite the high release clause in his Valencia contract, it is unlikely that the club will pursue that because of their financial situation and it is suggested that a fee of around £28 million could be accepted for the player this summer.

The young Serbian idolises United midfielder Paul Pogba so would probably jump at the chance to sign for United if the club has solid interest in him this summer. The only problem would be the depth of United’s midfield this summer which consists of Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred with the likes of Andreas Pereira, and James Garner who could also feature in the position, although the latter plays at U23 level and could be loaned out this summer.

Racic can play as both an attacking or defensive midfield position and is described as a real number six player that has a great intelligence of the game and a player that has been said to demonstrate his quality, making his future in the game bright. This was stated by Zvezdan Terzic, the general director of Red Star Belgrade back in December 2017, months before he left toe club for Valencia. The player might be a gamble right now but has been compared to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has been linked to United. Terzic said:

“Racic is most similar like Slaviša Jokanovic, the real ‘six’. He is a defensive midfielder with an extraordinary jump, great game review and incredible intelligence. He will just demonstrate his quality in the future.”

During the 2019/20 season when Racic was playing for Portuguese side Famalicão, he made a total of 39 appearances, playing in the Liga NOS and the Taça de Portugal Placard, scoring three goals and two assists. That season, Racic played as a defensive midfielder, a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder and as a second striker. On Sunday, Racic played his first match of the 2020/21 season for Valencia in a 4-2 victory over Levante, playing 18 minutes and being booked in the 89th minute.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United set to complete £10.9 million signing of Serbian midfielder

Manchester United have reported signed Partizan Belgrade’s 17-year-old midfielder Filip Stevanovic according to reports by the Serbian Telegraph. The teenaged faced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the UEFA Europa League group stage doubled header earlier this season, playing 15 minutes in Partizan’s 1-0 defeat in Serbia and playing 20 minutes in the 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford. It is suggested that Solskjaer was impressed with the teenager, prompting further scouting of the player.

United are said to be spending £10.9 million on Stevanovic this summer, although he will spend the entire 2020/21 season at his former club on loan, moving to Manchester next summer ahead of the first season playing for his new club. It is stated that Partizan wanted to receive £18 million for the player this summer, which could explain why the player will stay at his club on loan for next season. That could be good for the player, who could be ready to play for United’s first team in a years time.

The coronavirus pandemic is probably the reason why the lower fee was accepted though with clubs seemingly suffering financial problems with supporters not yet able to attend matches, therefore cutting the revenue of all clubs around the world. The player will follow in the footsteps of Zoran Tošić, who signed for United in 2009 from Partizan, although that does not suggest the player could amount to much seeing as Tošić stayed at United for just one season. Hopefully, this time will be different.

During the 2019/20 season, Stevanovic made a total of 35 appearances for Partizan Belgrade, playing in the Super Liga Srbije, the Kup Srbije and the UEFA Europa League, including the qualification stages. The teenager scored nine goals and three assists for his club, which is good considering the player’s age and the fact he is playing regular first team football for his club. It would seem that the player has a good future head of him and seeing him play next season, albeit in Serbia, will be interesting.

Despite being described as a midfielder, Stevanovic predominantly plays as a wide forward mainly on the left but has played on the right, and also through the middle in the central attacking midfielder position. The player is an attacking all-rounder, a superb dribbler of the ball, he has great technique; footwork, ball control and composure in tight spaces, which is a good sign. He also has goos coordination, agility and balance, great vision, playmaking skills and is a creative player.

This all seems good to read but will need to be experienced by watching the player. In the 2019/20 season, Stevanovic played 1,887 minutes of football, which for his age and the fact he is playing first team football, is great. Of course, what he does in Serbia matter little for United and the player will be judged on what he can do wearing the famous Manchester United shirt. If United do end up signing the player and he arrives at the club in a year’s time, he will be eligible to play U23 and first team football. It will be interesting to see what he can achieve at the club.

Written by John Walker

Nemanja Matic says Manchester United ‘cannot allow’ Liverpool to romp to the Premier League title again

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has stated that the Old Trafford club ‘cannot allow’ the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City or another other club romp to the Premier League title like the Merseyside club did this season. It would seem that seeing Liverpool win their first league title in 30 years has started a fire within in order to aim to stop that happening again next season. Liverpool earned 99 points in the league this season, unable to break the 100 point barrier.

The Merseyside club ended up being named as the Premier League champions when Chelsea beat Manchester City with the club having seven matches of the season remaining. Of course, to the Liverpool aligned media, it made the club the best ever to play in and win the Premier League because they won the title at the earliest it had ever been won. Overreaction and Liverpool tends to come together, no matter the circumstance.

United had a strong end to the Premier League season, unbeaten in 14 league matches, earning a third-placed finish after chasing down Leicester City, who at one stage of the season were 14 points ahead of United with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finishing four points ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ side. Matic has stated that finishing 33 points behind the eventual winners of the league will not be good enough next season, which is 100% correct. United should be doing much better.

Solskjaer will need to get things started this summer with the club needing to add a minimum of three top players to the squad in order to have the strength and depth in the squad to be able to rotate players next season, which will be required with the club competing in the Premier League, Carabao Cup, UEFA Champions League and the Emirates FA Cup. Speaking to Inside United and reported by the official Manchester United website, Matic said:

“Me, personally, I would like to win the Premier League with Manchester United. I think that our club always needs to fight for the title.

“We always need to try to do the best for this club, which we are doing at the moment, and I think we cannot allow any club to win the league seven or 10 games before the season finishes. So we have to fight until the end.

“Of course, we have a young team, but this cannot be an excuse. I think these young players already have a few seasons behind them playing. So, from the next season, we have to fight for the title.

“I don’t know if we’re going to win [it] but I’m sure that we can fight until the end. That’s my personal target and I think the rest of my team-mates think the same.”

It is good to hear that at least one United player wants to hit back and make the Old Trafford faithful proud of the club once again. United should have been motivated that Liverpool have been getting better in the past few years and should have been aiming to stop them from winning the league. Now that they have done that, Matic and his teammates will be seeking to stop their party from spreading into multiple summers, aiming to wrestle the Premier League title from them, returning it to Manchester in May 2021.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United want to sign Serbian midfielder this summer – reports

Manchester United have reportedly reignited their interest in Lazio’s Serbian midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic this summer. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to want the 25-year-old to line up in midfield with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba next season – adding some power, pace and steel to his midfield ahead of the start of the 2020/21 season with United expected to challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City for Premier League glory.

According to FootMercato, reported by The Sun, the Old Trafford club are preparing a summer move for the Lazio midfielder. If this is true, it could be good news for United. However, there always seems to be rumours linking the club with as many players as possible and supporters will need to weigh up whether there is anything solid in the reporting. In this case, I would say no but that is just my opinion. It is, however, stated that United will have competition from Real Madrid, Juventus, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, which seems a little strange to be honest.

Real Madrid are, according to rumour, not making any plans to sign any big name players this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. Chelsea seem to have spent a lot of money already this summer and it would suggest that their name is being used, probably along with United and the Madrid club. Spurs might be in the market for another midfielder, however, a high fee might be a problem for them as they are not know to splash the cash, which is part of their problem.

Paris Saint-Germain are reported to have already made a £54 million move for the Serbian midfielder this summer, which was rejected by the Italian club. It is suggested that £90 million would be required to sign the player this summer but some seem to think that £63 million could be enough to get a deal done, which if true could be a good deal for the player, providing he does start to show promise once again, like he did a few seasons ago for the Italian club, which saw him linked to United and others at the time.

This season, in 41 appearances for Lazio, Milinkovic-Savic made a total of 41 appearances playing in the Serie A, Supercoppa Italiana, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Europa League. The Serbian has scored eight goals, adding eight more assists, which is a good rate of goals and assists from the midfield. The player is a central midfielder and does not play any other positions but in terms of creativity, he has a good head on his shoulders. It remains to be seen whether United can play without a defensive minded midfielder on the pitch but on paper, this could work.

The Serbian is contracted at Lazio until the summer of 2024, meaning that the club will not be in a rush to sell the player and will be holding out for the best deal with the player seemingly holding out for the best club, which could make things complicated. Of course, this report could have been leaked in order to get the player an enhanced contract at the club. This has been seen many times in the past with players linked to multiple clubs and ending up remaining at their club signing a new bumper contract. Cynical I know but it happens a lot.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United on ‘red alert’ as Lazio admit £80 million midfielder’s future is in his own hands – reports

Lazio have admitted that the future of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is in the players own hands. The 25-year-old has had many teams in Europe tracking him over the years but it would also be safe today that the player is not in the same form that he was a few years ago – which could affect the number of clubs actually interested in the player.

In the past, despite a number of rumours linking the Serbian midfielder to club such as Manchester United, the Italian club have always responded with comments stating that the player was not for sale. However, it has been revealed by the sporting director of Lazio that if the player wants to leave the club, he can leave.

This season, before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football, Milinkovic-Savic made a total of 31 appearances for the club, playing in the Serie A, Supercoppa Italiana, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Europa League – scoring five goals and a further seven assists. During the 2018/19 season, in 41 appearances he scored seven goals and three assists.

During the 2017/18 season, which was probably his beat at Lazio, Milinkovic-Savic made a total of 48 appearances, scoring 14 goals, assisting a further eight. This was the summer he was linked to United Wirth many thinking a move would actually happen and the following summer, with Paul Pogba linked elsewhere, the rumours started again.

Comments from the Lazio sporting director Igli Tare will most likely start the speculation once again that United, or even Chelsea, who has also been looking at the player, could finally sign the player they are rumoured to want to complete their team. Whilst speaking to Sky Sports Italia, Tare stated:

“The player’s desire is crucial. Generally speaking, if a player thinks that their time is up and wants to go somewhere else, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“Eras come to an end. The fact he stayed in Rome for five years is because he has strong links with the city and club.

“When there was some temptation, a bit on our part, a bit on his, we never went all the way. However, things must be assessed at the end of the season.”

The 25-year-old has a contract with Lazio that does not expire until the summer of 2024, meaning he has at least three years remaining at the club this summer. This would give the Italian club a lot of leverage and that whoever wanted to sign the Serbian would pay a premium to do so. It is suggested that £80 million could be enough this summer.

Milinkovic-Savic started out as a youth player at Sporting Clube de Portugal before moving to Grazer AK in Austria, then Fudbalski Klub Vojvodina in Serbia. It was here the player found first team football playing 16 times, scoring four goals and one assist. He was then sold to Belgian club Genk in the summer of 2014.

Whilst playing for Genk, Milinkovic-Savic made 24 appearances for the club, scoring five goals and a further assist. In the summer of 2015, the Serbian was sold to Lazio where he has made a total of 194 appearances, scoring 36 goals and a further 26 assists. If he wants to leave the club this summer, starting again in pastures new could be a good challenge.

During his career, Milinkovic-Savic has won the Serbian Cup with Vojvodina, and the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana with Lazio. Internationaly, the 25-year-old has been capped 15 times by Serbia and has yet to score a single goal. As a youth player for Serbia, he helped win the UEFA European U19 Championship in 2013 and the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2015.

Nemanja Matic’s time at Manchester United is drawing to a close; academy graduate ready to show his worth

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is coming to the end of his career at the club. In the summer, both AC Milan and Inter Milan were interested in the 31-year-old, whose contract will run out at the end of the season, although there is the option for another year to be added, which might ensure United got a fee for the player, should he leave.

Reports in the media suggested that Matic was ‘forced’ to stay at the club this summer but could have linked up with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez at Inter, if he was allowed to leave. So far this season, after not being picked to start or come off the bench in the first three matches, Matic played 22 minutes against Southampton, a 1-1 draw.

Looking at the fact Matic has been overlooked by Solskjaer this season is pretty telling that his number is nearly up. When he has played, he has been very slow, effectively slowing down United’s counter-attacking play, even taking time to despatch the ball, which is clearly not going to work for United. Matic has been professional, to a point.

Only last week, Matic had suggested that Solskjaer could lose his job this season if he did not get things right. Some took that as a criticism, others a call to arms to get the players ready for their matches after the first international break of the season. The media, of course, took the negative slant as the words ‘Manchester United’ sell and bring in clicks. Matic said:

“The coach must opt for the team that will fight for the title and if he does not win, he bears the responsibility.

“I have been in football for a long time, I have played almost all the games for all the clubs in the last 10 years.

“In order for me to play, one had to sit on the bench and accept that fact, and so do I now.”

At this moment in time, it is hard to see where Matic fits into this United team. With Solskjaer utilising a 4-2-3-1 formation, which is not really working, with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay the trusted central midfielders, even a switch to a 4-3-3 formation might see Matic remain on the bench or not involved at all.

United need more creativity in the midfield, which is where Angel Gomes could come in. In terms of filling Matic’s position, James Garner, who has so far performed for the U23s this season, scoring four goals and one assist in the four matches he has played, could see him fast-tracked into first team contention, which would be great to see.

Garner has been compared to United coach and former player, Michael Carrick. This is based on his style of play and positioning during matches. Despite his age, 18, Garner plays football as a much older player. He is calm and composed with a high work rate and level of determination. He’s a natural leader with a good footballing mind.

Ensuring that the 18-year-old plays first team football this season will be down to Solskjaer, who can call on his services from the U23s. United also have the likes of Fred, who has not played a single minute of football this season but for me, Garner is the more exciting prospect, although Fred should be given a chance to redeem himself after last season.

I would imagine, that if Garner started playing to a good standard at first-team level, the likelihood of Matic leaving in January or even next summer would be very high, as long as there was interest in his services, of which there would seem to be in Italy. Should Garner and Fred play well, if, given the chance, this could, in fact, become reality?

copyright: JW