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World Cup One To Watch: Serbia’s 23-year-old powerhouse Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester United

World Cup One To Watch: Serbia’s 23-year-old powerhouse Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

The Serbia international will be a player to keep an eye out for in Russia.

Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is perhaps already a household name at club level ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, due to transfer gossip columns.

However, the Serbian international still has everything to prove for his country and the summer will provide the perfect stage to validate the hype that follows his name.

The 23-year-old will travel to Russia as one of the most sought-after players in the world game thanks to his impressive form in the Italian top flight throughout the 2017/18 season, and rightly so.

To see who else features in The Boot Room’s World Cup Ones to Watch series, click here.

Who is he?

Those who have watched Milinkovic-Savic in action in Serie A this season will understand why the 23-year-old is in such high demand across Europe.

His strength and height make him a formidable force in the air as well as an imposing defensive presence. Meanwhile, his technical ability with the ball at his feet is comparable to some of the very best midfielders in the modern game.

An imposing playmaker, Milinkovic-Savic has been in red-hot form in the Italian Serie A this season, scoring 11 league goals and chipping in with a further nine assists.

These are laudable attacking numbers for a midfielder who operates in the engine room of the pitch, and his attacking contributions led Lazio to within inches of their first Champions League berth in over a decade.

(Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

What is his international experience/record?

Milinkovic-Savic was part of the Serbian team that achieved success in the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015. He played an influential role as his team won the tournament, appearing in six out of seven games and claiming the Bronze Ball award.

Despite thriving at both youth level for his country and as a senior for club, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has rarely been given a chance on the international stage for Serbia. Criminally, the 23-year-old has just the four international caps to his name.

Previous coach Slavoljub Muslin decided to ignore the Lazio midfielder during World Cup qualification, a decision that ultimately contributed to his controversial dismissal. Nonetheless, under Mladen Krstajic, he has become one of the first names on the team sheet.

Why will he be a breakout World Cup star?

Milinkovic-Savic is ready to play catch up after being exiled by his previous international coach and the World Cup will see him play a pivotal role.

In a team bursting of midfield talent, including the likes of Nemanja Matic, Luka Milivojevic, Andrija Zivkovic, Marko Grujic, Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic and Filip Kostic, the Lazio youngster will undoubtedly steal the limelight.

Despite his limited international experience, Milinkovic-Savic has the ability to help Serbia to the knockout stages of the World Cup and increase his already impressive chances of a big-money summer move to one of Europe’s elite.

(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

What is his future after the World Cup?

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s agent has recently confirmed that “clubs are interested from all over Europe” but the Lazio midfielder will decide his future after the World Cup.

“Sergej is coming off a great season, but now he’s focused on the World Cup with Serbia,” Mateja Kezman told Corriere dello Sport, as reported by Football Italia. “We’ll listen, talk, and discuss and then we’ll see what happens after the World Cup.”

Having been one of the stand out performers in Serie A last season, and despite the £87.5million price tag that has been placed on his head, top clubs including Juventus, Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain are reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport to be interested.

Although he has asserted, as per the Daily Mail, that he will not focus on a potential move until after the tournament, his future seemingly lies away from the Stadio Olimpico and I Biancocelesti will benefit from his price going even higher if he performs in Russia.

To see who else features in The Boot Room’s World Cup Ones to Watch series, click here.

Chris is the founder of The Boot Room. He is a Swindon Town supporter, having lived in Wiltshire for most of his years. His work has also featured on Squawka, Bleacher Report and Eurosport.

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