Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: the Serbian powerhouse

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

It is fair to say that Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has caught the eye of many over the past year. When we first released this profile, back in March, Sergej was starting to be noticed by some of the biggest clubs in Europe and the Serb nearly left Rome in the summer; Manchester United, PSG, Real Madrid, and Juventus touted as possible destinations – as well as outside interest from Chelsea and AC Milan. Milinkovic-Savic remained with Lazio but some have criticized him this season for a lack of effort – the Serbian scoring just two and assisting one in 20 appearances across Serie A and Europa League. This updated article will take a closer look at Sergej and dissect the sort of player he is, as well as providing background and statistics on the 23-year-old starlet.

Sergej Milinkovic Savic fudbaler Vojvodine ---- Foto Ognjen Ademovski.jpg

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic started his youth career at Grazer AK, an Austrian sports club before moving to FK Vojvodina in Serbia at the age of 11. He spent six years at Vojvodina as a youth player before signing his first professional contract with the club in 2012. He scored 3 in 13 league appearances for Vojvodina, helping the club win the Serbian Cup in the 13/14 season. Fast forward to June 2014, where the young Serbian was snatched up by Belgian outfit Genk, for a fee of around €900k. There, he played 24 games in the 2014/15 season, scoring five goals in the process. Milinkovic-Savic signed for Lazio in 2015 for a fee of around €16m and has since made 110 league appearances, finding the net 19 times. In the 15/16 and 16/17 seasons, Sergej played 25 and 34 league games respectively, scoring 1 and 4 goals. Last season, Sergej excelled himself, with the Serbian midfielder scoring 12 times in the league in 35 appearances.

Has it All Gone Right for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic?

Last season, Sergej was instrumental to Lazio’s success whilst he has played much more of a supporting role this season, finding the net on fewer occasions and altogether not playing as well as he did last season. It looked like everything was going right for the Serbian until this season has started, so has it gone right for Milinkovic-Savic? Certainly. Despite not playing as well, Sergej is still an important player and is still growing; at just 23 he is nowhere near his peak maturity yet and his consistency will only grow with age. He has become a complete midfielder, in the modern sense of the term. Take a look at some of the highlights in the video embedded below (Source: Prince10HD on YouTube). He is excellent at holding up play in the box and therefore creating space for Lazio’s attacking force to dominate. Not only is he necessary to Lazio’s support play, but to their actual goal-scoring too. He has been one of the most prolific midfielders in Europe’s main leagues and, with Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto, helped Lazio become one of the highest scoring teams in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season. I’d draw parallels between Sergej and Yaya Toure in his prime, world-beating complete midfielders with an eye for goal.

In terms of what he contributes to Lazio’s game plan, the video below shows where Milinkovic-Savic usually sits in Lazio’s attacking movements.

He is positioned just outside the box, usually facing the ball at all times, rarely looking away from the man with the ball. This is important as it allows the rest of the midfield and attack to play balls off him; his pure physicality helping keep any potential defenders off his back. This is an example of the ‘pass-and-move’ football that Simone Inzaghi has implemented into this Lazio side yet Milinkovic-Savic doesn’t move much. He is vital for giving the rest of the side the freedom to move in the final third that a conventional center-mid doesn’t. This next clip shows exactly what his goal-scoring is all about.

He is sitting in that spot, outside of the box, in acres of space. He is allowed to dominate that space due to the typically open defenses of the Serie A. A criticism could be that he attempts to shoot far too often for a CM in the eyes of some coaches: but I will touch on that in the next section. I’ve covered how his physicality makes him a vital piece in Lazio’s build-up play but it helps him get on the scoresheet too. The video below shows how his height and strength are dangerous in the box. See how he is up against two Sassuolo defenders, who albeit are defending awfully, getting perfectly on the end of former teammate Felipe Anderson’s cross and thundering it into the net past Consigli. Incredible talent.

The Concerns

For me, the main concern about Sergej Milinkovic Savic right now is his inconsistency. Sergej, as aforementioned, was crucial to Lazio’s successes last season yet, this season, he has been a mere shadow of his former self. Whether he is struggling with fitness or lacking confidence, something is not clicking for the Serbian as it did last season. After his goal against Cagliari on the 22nd December, Milinkovic-Savic was overcome with emotion – suggesting how much finding the net meant to him after such a barren season compared to the 17/18 Serie A. Lazio on a whole look to be lacking confidence scoring goals, therefore whether or not Sergej’s dry spell has been a result of his own shortcomings or the teams is another matter entirely. Even Ciro Immobile is struggling to score as frequently as he did last season and therefore completely blaming Milinkovic-Savic is perhaps a bit unfair on the Serbian.


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One thought on “Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: the Serbian powerhouse”

  1. Steven Moore says:

    Looks to be a very promising midfielder. With age and experience, he will become top class.

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