Could Another Serbian Midfielder be the Key for Jose?

Jon Wilmot  |  7th June 2018

With Michael Carrick hanging up his boots, and the probability of Marouane Fellaini finally squeezing his hair through the exit door, it’s evident that Mourinho will be looking to bolster his midfield options this summer. Fed has already been signed from Shakhtar Donetsk, and it’s thought that he will form a midfield trio alongside Pogba and Matic. However, with two departures, and question marks still hovering over Pogba’s future, the indication is that United will sign one more midfielder before the new season starts.

One player that regularly gets linked is Lazio’s Serbian playmaker, Sergej Milinković-Savić. Just 23 years old and earning rave reviews for his performances this season, he would be an exciting addition to United’s ranks.

He is described as a complete midfielder, which would be just what’s needed at Old Trafford. Mourinho has continued to insist that Pogba is a box to box player, emphasising the need for an impact at both ends of pitch. This doesn’t come naturally to the Frenchman though – while he is comfortable sitting deep and orchestrating play, it exposes his weaknesses – mainly a tendency to switch off defensively and a half-hearted attitude to tracking his man – and stifles his primary strength – driving and dictating the attack. If Pogba could be freed up to stay higher up the pitch, while Matic or Fred marshals the defence, then a “complete midfielder” would complement them perfectly.

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Savic could be that missing link. He has the stature Mourinho loves – 6 foot 4 and physically strong, powerful in the air, and doesn’t shirk the physical side of the game. Crucially, though, he is excellent in possession, able to skillfully dribble past opponents and craft passes with both feet in a style not too dissimilar to Kevin De Bruyne (who, like Savić, began his career at the Belgian side, Genk). Essentially, he has the technique, intelligence, and creativity to dominate a match.

With 12 goals in 33 league starts last season, he also provides a genuine goal-threat from midfield. His versatility in this respect also remedies a weak spot in United’s squad. Pogba’s form has fluctuated all season, and it’s an issue exacerbated by the fact there is no-one who can provide similar attributes for the team. Herrera and Matic are accomplished passers of the ball, but they lack the magic and creativity Pogba can provide; there needs to be a replacement for him when he is absent from the team, either through injury or a loss of form. Savić could comfortably fulfil the role.

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Of course, Savić might be seen as a replacement for Pogba rather than as his accomplice, should the rumours of Pogba’s departure have any merit. Considering United’s need to bolster the quality of their squad, however, it seems more likely Pogba will stay. More intriguingly, then, is the possibility of accommodating Pogba and Savić in the seam team. With a defensive midfielder covering behind them (likely to be Fred), both players could play their natural games, affecting matches in the right areas, and supplying United with a wealth of creativity and spark from the centre of the pitch. One problem could be their shared tendency to drift towards the left-hand side, but it’s not an insurmountable one.

According to reports, the fee would be substantial (likely to be north of £80 million), which, despite an inflated market, underscores just how highly rated he is, and how much potential he has. There are numerous stories of the clubs that are interested in him (Man City amongst them), but rumours have persisted linking him with United. Of course, many stories have foundations of sand, but United fans will hope this one is credible. If they manage to recruit him, It could be the signing of the summer.

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