Newcastle United are reportedly the latest club to join the race to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic as Eddie Howe looks to bolster his defensive options this window.
What’s the story?
According to The Sun, Newcastle are interested in signing the Serbian centre-back this month, however, it has been reported that PIF would have to pay £37.5m to secure the 24-year-old’s services.
Howe’s side are currently the Premier League’s second-worst defenders behind Norwich City, having conceded 42 goals in 19 games. Moreover, the Magpies are sat in 19th place and fears of relegation are still very real.
In order to solve this major weakness, it has been reported that the Englishman wants to add two centre-backs to his ranks this window, with Milenkovic the latest defender to be linked with a move to the North-East.
The Serbian is certainly a hot prospect, having received plenty of praise from an array of suitors, most notably being labelled the “new Vidic” by former Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Moreover, former teammate Pol Lirola, now of Olympique Marseille, stated that Milenkovic “has an extraordinary quality” and is “already ready for a great team.”
Newcastle must sign Milenkovic
It is no secret that Howe’s defence will need serious improvement this window if the Tyneside club are to significantly boost their survival bid; the 24-year-old could prove to be the perfect option.
Stood at a towering 6’5”, the Serbian is a colossus at the back and would provide a major aerial presence. Moreover, he’s five centimetres taller than Newcastle’s current tallest centre-back in Federico Fernandez.
Milenkovic has missed just three Serie A matches this campaign, keeping three clean sheets in 17 starts as well as scoring one goal.
The 24-year-old is currently averaging 71.7 touches per game as well as boasting an impressive 90% passing accuracy.
From a defensive point of view, the centre-back is making 1.2 interceptions per game, 1.9 tackles, 3 clearances and is also dribbled past once every ten games.
According to SofaScore, Jamaal Lascelles in Newcastle’s current best-performing centre-back with an average score of 6.73/10 per game. However, compared to Milenkovic’s stats, it is clear why Newcastle are interested.
The Englishman is averaging just 40.2 touches per game, whilst making 0.8 interceptions, 0.4 tackles and having a 79% passing accuracy.
However, the 28-year-old is making more clearances per game (5.5) and is dribbled past as frequently as Milenkovic.
The 24-year-old would significantly improve Newcastle United and, should he sign, it would prove a major statement of intent from the North-East club.