Man in the middle: Serbia's rising star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Serbia's former coach Slavoljub Muslin paid with his job for failing to select Milinkovic-Slavic for the national side.

Published: 31st May 2018 10:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2018 10:20 AM   |  A+A-

Serbia attacking midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (File | AP)


BELGRADE: Off to the World Cup after an outstanding season for Lazio in Serie A, 23-year-old attacking midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will be among the players to watch in Russia.

Manchester United are already reported to be among clubs following the progress of the rising star who is being compared to Serbian great Dejan Stankovic, another attacking midfielder who earned more the 100 caps and captained the national side until he retired in 2011.

"I am ready to give everything for Serbia," Milinkovic-Savic told the Serbian daily Blic. "The chance to take part in a competition such as the World Cup is the reason why I play football."

Serbia's former coach Slavoljub Muslin, who led the team to qualification for the World Cup, paid with his job for failing to select Milinkovic-Slavic for the national side, according to local reports.

He was sacked last autumn and replaced by novice coach Mladen Krstajic who did not make the same error, picking the rising star in his provisional squad of 27 that will be narrowed down to 23 by June 4.

The imposing playmaker who stands 6ft 4in (1.92m) tall has been in red-hot form in the Italian League this season.

His playmaker vision, high work rate, coupled with a haul of 14 goals has attracted attention from Italian clubs including Juventus. But clubs beyond Italy's borders have also shown interest, with reports linking him to Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid as well as Manchester United.

The asking price is said to be in the region of 100 million euros for the player who was part of the Serbian team that won the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015.

Born in Lleida, Spain, where his father played football, he returned to Serbia and began his playing career at Vojvodina in Novi Sad, scoring 24 goals in a brief spell in the Serbian first division before heading to Genk in Belgian in 2014 and on to Roma the following year.

His strength and height make him a formidable force in the air as well as an imposing defensive presence. But his technical ability with the ball at his feet is what draws gasps from Serbian fans and attracted the interest of big-money clubs.


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