Premier League • England

President sends Arsenal fierce warning amid claims of £100m deal for Serie A star with links to Man Utd

Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic may be beyond reach for Arsenal and Manchester United after Lazio president Claudio Lotito refused to back down from his tough transfer stance.

Lazio have been fielding interest in Milinkovic-Savic for a number of years. Manchester United have been long-term admirers, although they have never quite managed to prise him away.

They continue to be linked with the Serbia international. More recently, though, Arsenal have come into the equation.

The Premier League leaders are willing to spend in January to give themselves more momentum in the second half of the season. Midfield is one of the areas they want to add cover in.

In that regard, Milinkovic-Savic would be something of a dream target. However, it looks likely he will be out of Arsenal’s budget.

In fact, Lazio might ensure he is off the market entirely. Their president Lotito has already vowed the asking price is €120million (around £103.5million), which he has now repeated.

But the president’s plan is not to sell him at all – rather to renew his contract.

Lotito told Il Messaggero: “I will not sell Milinkovic-Savic, I will offer him a renewal.

“I reiterate, he is now worth €120m, and every month that passes, the price goes up.”

Milinkovic-Savic’s current contract with Lazio is due to expire in 2024. He has played for them since 2015, when he left Genk.

Milinkovic-Savic asking price makes Lazio stay likely

With more than 300 appearances for Lazio to his name, Milinkovic-Savic has been a modern icon for the club. If he does accept Lotito’s advances of a contract extension, he could end up playing for them for more than a decade.

Of course, there is no guarantee that the 27-year-old will automatically say yes to Lazio’s proposal. However, he has been through a lot with them and may see little reason to change.

At this stage of his career, though, Milinkovic-Savic must realise he is making a decision for the prime of his career. Having never played in the Premier League, there could yet be things for him to consider in England.

Still, Lotito’s stance will not make changing clubs easy for the Spain-born star. Arsenal or Manchester United might have to look elsewhere if they want to upgrade what they have in midfield already.

Spending a nine-figure sum is not something that clubs will be taking lightly. Arsenal have never done it before, while Manchester United would be breaking their transfer record if Lotito isn’t bluffing over the asking price.

Hence, they would have to be fully sure of what impact Milinkovic-Savic would make before they could deem a bid to be worthwhile.

And as good a player as he is, there might be more economical options on the market.

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