The Sergeant vs The Magician
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto have been teammates on Lazio for the past three seasons. In 2017/2018, the two midfielders had career-high years in Rome – during that year, the Serbian recorded 12 goals and three assists, while the Spaniard secured 11 goals and 14 assists. In addition, in that season, Simone Inzaghi’s squad was finding the back of the net nearly every match and finished the Serie A campaign with the most goals scored. In the following season, the team’s offense derailed and became non-existent as Lazio struggled to find the back of the net. During 2018/2019, the Sergeant tallied four goals and one assist while the Magician recorded five goals and two assists. Therefore, the two midfielders went from having career-high years to a downhill season. However, achieving similar past results is not an easy feat. As the 2018-2019 season concluded, transfer rumors and reports have constantly put Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto in the departure lane at Lazio. Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and most recently Manchester United have been clubs mentioned in the news. Additionally, the value of the players has dropped due to their ‘poor performances’ last year. Luis Alberto was valued at €50 million while Savic was valued at €120 million by Claudio Lotito in the summer of 2018. This leaves the club pondering and justifying whether they should sell both for a lesser value (reports say the President has set a minimum price tag at €40 million for the Spaniard and €80 million for the Serbian this summer). Another question all in all would be to consider which one of the two players to sell and which one to keep at the club.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: when Lazio loses control of a game, the Serbian has the ability to take control, slow down the tempo, and allow the team to recompose itself. He’s very good defensively as he’s able to take the ball off opponents by staying close to them to minimize the options through the midfield. This is also easier as a result of his physicality and large build. On the contrary, he displayed his strengths in offense in December 2018 at home against Torino with a beautiful powering strike from distance which landed top corner of the net. His ball control is also something to admire which allows him to usually succeed on one-on-ones. In addition, when inside the opposition’s 18-yard-box, he is a menace thanks to his strength and desire to get on the end of crosses, as seen by his Coppa Italia final goal against Atalanta this past year.
Luis Alberto: the Spaniard plays the game of football differently in relation to the rest of his teammates. He is a free-kick and set play specialist as he has the ability to find his teammates in all parts of the pitch. The technical side of his game allows him to control the ball. When the ball is by his feet, his dribbling and first touch are his most significant perks. When the ball goes to Alberto’s chest, he’s able to bring the ball down very smoothly and with ease. Passing is another one of his admired assets as he’s able to move the ball very calmly around the pitch. It allows him to move the team forward in transition, especially on the counter-attack.
Every player has their strengths and weaknesses. Milinkovic-Savic’s long passes and decision making are not a strong point, while if Luis Alberto can’t move the ball forward with long passes, turnovers tend to occur. In addition, both of the player’s emotions sometimes get the best of them, which lead to losing the control of the game. Fitness levels are also an area of concern as injuries have hampered both midfielders this past season.
In regards to age, the Serbian is two years younger than his teammate. Savic is twenty-four while Luis Alberto is twenty-six. The difference in age shouldn’t be overlooked, as the Spaniard is close to reaching his prime, while his teammate has still yet to reach his limits we’re so eager to see. In regards to contracts, Milinkovic-Savic’s could be a concern for Lazio as his wages in the long-term could are likely to increase rapidly as he improves. Luis Alberto’s, on the other hand, will be less and is more affordable for Lazio. As it stands, Milinkovic-Milinkovic-Savic makes over €5 million per season while Luis Alberto makes €2.7 million per season. In regards to market value, Milinkovic-Savic’s is valued higher than his teammate Luis Alberto. The Serbian could bring in a higher return. This is why Lazio would preferably want to sell him to obtain more money and reinvest in more players to improve all aspects of the team.
All in all, the Serbian’s profile seems to have more to offer than his teammate. However, whatever the club decides to do, either decision will be good for the club as each player is beneficial. While Milinkovic-Savic would seem to be the logical choice, the market will probably dictate otherwise. When the decision does arise, one would hope that the profit made on either deal would be used wisely and help improve the team. Let’s not forget that both players contributed to Lazio in their own ways. If one or both were to leave the team, we could only say thank you because, without either, Lazio wouldn’t have had the success that they have had in recent years.