Why West Ham should return for Nikola Milenkovic in January
Earlier this season, Daily Mail reported that West Ham were making a move for Nikola Milenkovic during the summer transfer window. However, no deal could be worked out and the Hammers settled down for Craig Dawson. They have also conducted talks recently about Frederik Alves Ibsen (source – Daily Mail).
Nikola Milenkovic rose through the youth ranks of Serbian heavyweights Partizan Belgrade and made his first-team breakthrough in the 2015-16 season. He spent time on loan at Teleoptik in the third-tier to further his development before establishing himself as a regular fixture at his boyhood club.
The 22-year-old made 40 appearances across all competitions during the 2016-17 season as Partizan clinched the Serbian SuperLiga crown and the domestic cup double.
That paved the way for a move to Italian outfit Fiorentina in the summer of 2017 and Milenkovic has since gone on to establish himself as one of the best young centre-backs in the Serie A. The highly-rated Serbian has made 103 appearances for La Viola so far, carving out a reputation for himself as a powerful goal-scoring defender with 9 goals in all competitions (source – Transfermarkt).
A full international for Serbia since 2016, Milenkovic has accumulated 23 caps for his nation and caught the eye in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
West Ham must pursue Milenkovic in January
West Ham conceded as many as 62 goals en route to their 16-place finish in the Premier League last season. This was the fourth-worst defensive record in the entire division. The gaping holes at the back were very much visible as they kicked off the 2020-21 campaign with back-to-back defeats against Newcastle and Arsenal, conceding 5 goals in their first two games.
That was before David Moyes’ tactical masterstroke to switch to a back-three system propelled the Hammers to a thumping 4-0 win over Wolves. West Ham looked quite solid at the back in that particular game but since then, they have conceded 10 more goals 5 games.
Angelo Ogbonna isn’t getting any younger at 32 while Paraguayan international Fabian Balbuena has failed to inspire much confidence with his displays in the Premier League. Winston Reid, who is currently out on loan in the MLS, doesn’t feature in Moyes’ plans either.
Nikola Milenkovic ticks all boxes to come through the door at the London Stadium as an excellent addition to West Ham’s ailing backline. The Serbian star has made a massive impact in Italy. And he looks more than capable of replicating his consistency in English football.
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Nikola Milenkovic certainly fits the bill as an instant upgrade on the likes of Balbuena and Ogbonna. It will be really interesting to see him partner another top-quality young defender like Issa Diop at the heart of West Ham’s backline.