Long-standing Manchester United transfer target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has suggested he is bored of listening to rumours linking him with a move to the Red Devils.
The Serbian star is regarded as one of the finest midfielders in Serie A; a player with a real box-to-box engine. His exploits for Lazio down the years have seen him linked with multiple big-money moves. However, he remains a Lazio player and will on Thursday night reach a landmark appearance for the club.
Milinkovic-Savic first saw his name linked with United all the way back in the Jose Mourinho days. That came as a recommendation from trusted midfield lieutenant, Nemanja Matic, who was quick to endorse the qualities of his Serbia teammate. As such, the midfielder became something of an obssession for United during the Portuguese’s spell in charge.
Indeed, any prospects of a transfer were continually hindered by Lazio’s sky-high valuation. Indeed, during the peak of United’s interest, president Claudio Lotito was reportedly demanding as much as £130m (€150m).
Since that period, Milinkovic-Savic has been linked with several other moves. Indeed, the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Juventus, PSG and most recently Arsenal have also reportedly been tracking the Serb.
However, towards the latter stages of the summer window, it was United who were once again linked. With new boss Erik ten Hag chasing a new midfielder, Milinkovic-Savic’s name once again popped up.
At the time, United’s quest to sign Frenkie de Jong was stalling and the Lazio star was seemingly identified as a Plan B. And those reports began to gather pace amid claims that Lotito was reportedly willing to let him leave for just £60m.
However, a move to United never materialised or even progressed beyond newspaper speculation.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic bats away transfer speculation
United instead, of course, opted to spend a huge £64m fee to lure Casemiro from Real Madrid. And that means another transfer door closing in Milinkovic-Savic’s face.
Not that the player is bothered. Questioned about another summer of speculation, the now 27-year-old appears content exactly where he is.
In a press conference to preview Lazio’s Europa League clash with Feyenoord at the Stadio Olimpico, Milinkovic-Savic has explained why he is taking a flippant view on speculation.
“It’s the same as every other summer. You lot always spoke about different clubs and then I started a new season with Lazio, he said, via Football Italia. “We have a lot of young players, it’s the second year under coach Maurizio Sarri and we’ve got clear ideas with a stronger mentality than before.
“I’m happy that [Thursday] will be my 300th game in the Lazio shirt; I still remember the very first and all those years that have since passed.
“I don’t know what to tell you about the transfer market, that’s for my agents and the club to think about. I’m here with a smile on my face and I’m happy.”
Time still on midfielder’s side
Milinkovic-Savic is a player who could easily shine in the Champions League. Yet during his time at the club, he’s only played in the competition seven times. That came in the 2020/21 season.
Lazio are regulars in the Europa League but making that next step up regularly evades them.
Asked if he could leave upon another failure, he insists he is only focusing on the here and now.
“I am not thinking about next year, I want to keep taking it one game at a time. Unfortunately, I only played one season in the Champions League, I thought there would be more by now, but that’s true for many of the players here. It’s a stronger squad than last season.”
Whether a move to United, or indeed another club, ever materialises for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic remains to be seen.
His Lazio deal is currently due to expire in summer 2024. As such, speculation will likely increase come January if an extension is not signed. Indeed, the midfielder will very much find himself a man in demand if nothing is finalised on that front.
Lazio chief Lotito is a strong man to deal with on the transfer front. Indeed, you can think of him as an Italian equivalent of Daniel Levy. As such, it appears unlikely he will be allowed to enter the final year of his deal and in danger of leaving on a free transfer.
Fow now, though, the midfielder appears content where he is and continuing to impress for the Bianconeri.