Why Nikola Milenkovic would be an excellent signing for West Ham
According to the Daily Mail, West Ham have tabled a £20million bid for Fiorentina centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, with David Moyes keen to bring in some defensive reinforcements before the summer deadline.
As per the report, the Hammers have now turned their attention to Milenkovic after having several bids rejected in their pursuit of England international James Tarkowski and Saint-Etienne starlet Wesley Fofana.
Milenkovic, 22, has been tracked by several elite clubs across the continent, including Premier League giants Manchester United, and it is understood that West Ham’s £20million offer could fall short of Fiorentina’s valuation. (h/t Daily Mail)
Nikola Milenkovic rose through the youth ranks of Serbian heavyweights Partizan Belgrade and made his first-team breakthrough during 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 98 appearances for La Viola so far, carving out a reputation for himself as a powerful goalscoring defender with 8 goals in all competitions.
A full international for Serbia since 2016, Milenkovic has accumulated 20 caps for his nation and caught the eye in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Milenkovic would add more quality to West Ham’s backline
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 last week. West Ham looked quite solid at the back in that particular game but it goes without saying that they need to bring in some defensive upgrades at the earliest in a bid to avoid another relegation scare this time around.
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.
To put things into perspective, 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.
Profiled as a technically sound centre-back with the versatility to operate at right-back, the towering 6ft 5in Serbian powerhouse certainly has the physicality to cope with the rough-and-tough nature of the Premier League.
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Nikola Milenkovic certainly fits the bill as an instant upgrade on the likes of Balbuena and Ogbonna and it will be really interesting to see him partnering another top-quality young defender like Issa Diop at the heart of West Ham’s backline.
The Serb certainly has all the quality in the world to sort out the Hammers’ defensive problems for several years to come, with the 22-year-old still having his best years ahead of him.