Nikola Milenkovic

mazhar13

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Sounds like a perfect CB. But why he would be that cheap and not hyped more than this?
He's not as good as he's being made out to be. Sure, he's tall, aggressive, pacey, good in the air, and comfortable on the ball (though not necessarily great), but he has one glaring weakness: he ball-watches a ton, which makes playing past him relatively easily. He also gets drawn out of position relatively easily due to his aggressive nature. Interestingly, many ball-playing CBs have these weaknesses, but they tend to make up for it with their much better ability on the ball (dribbling and/or passing e.g. Koundé) and/or their athleticism (pacey, very good in the air, and/or strong on the tackle e.g. Joe Gomez or John Stones).

Milenkovic can't show much of his ability on the ball due to Fiorentina setting up their back 3 to be conservative, and much of their attacking threat comes from open play via Ribery/Vlahovic/midfielders. Honestly, Fiorentina aren't set up to get the most out of Milenkovic; a more enterprising team might get more out of him with his supposedly good ability on the ball.
 

SAFMUTD

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A bit like Bruno ?
Sure we can strike gold like with Bruno, or he can be another Bailly, Lindelof, Rojo, Blind, etc when top teams aren't interested theyre usually right with an odd exception here and there. Do you think its wise to gamble on a CB at this moment when we already have 3 godish ones?
 

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Sounds like a perfect CB. But why he would be that cheap and not hyped more than this?
One year left. Also my observation comes by watching a couple of his youtube videos. So I could be totally off.
EDIT: so Mazhar13 gives better opinion.
 

davidmichael

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When people say he’s pacey how pacey are we talking ? Are we talking Smalling levels for a centre back ? I was under the impression he wasn’t great in the air which is why he used to be shifted out as right back ? Is he better than Kounde or a fit Konate as a fit alongside Maguire ?
 

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When people say he’s pacey how pacey are we talking ? Are we talking Smalling levels for a centre back ? I was under the impression he wasn’t great in the air which is why he used to be shifted out as right back ? Is he better than Kounde or a fit Konate as a fit alongside Maguire ?
He's not better than a fully fit Konate but is a good option for the price and is surprising quick for a CB that is 6'5.

 

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I'm sorry, but this is analysis is quite superficial and something that anyone can conjure up. It uses stats without offering much context to them, and it compares him to a stylistically different defender playing in a stylistically different team.

For context, Milenkovic plays in a back 3. German Pezzella plays as a covering defender, whilst Milenkovic and the LCB play as stoppers. Fiorentina like to keep their back 3 in line and have them drop quite deep, mainly into the box. As the RCB, Milenkovic goes out to the flanks to support his wing back and look to win the ball. He gets into lots of 1-on-1 battles with the opposition ball holder on the right flank, and he tends to throw his foot in quite often. When the ball's on Fiorentina's right flank but not close to Milenkovic, Milenkovic himself tends to ball-watch and lose sight of runners. That's fine in Fiorentina as he expects Pezzella to deal with that whilst Pulgar and Amrabat plug the midfield gaps. With United, however, he'll have to take charge of passes behind him as well, something which I don't see him do often at Fiorentina unless he's dealing with a pass out to the flank.

When he has to deal with crosses from the near side, he always goes towards the near post and tends to do a decent job of dealing with them. However, he rarely if ever, stops cutbacks towards the penalty spot, and he rarely, if ever, positions himself to stop them. Once again, that's a consequence of how Fiorentina play, but it goes to show you what he tends to deal with. He's very good at defending the far post, but when he gets sucked into the middle, he tends to lose awareness of what goes on behind him. Once again, Fiorentina's setup, but there you go.

On the ball, he's still a safe player and doesn't tend to go forward with the ball so much. Fiorentina tend to use Castrovilli to drift out wide to support the wing back, and Milenkovic tends to stay back with the rest of the back 3 to cover the right side. Don't expect him to go on marauding runs with United or play raking long passes often.

Overall, I think he's getting a bit overhyped due to the United links. The fact that he's quick despite being quite tall means that he can overcome most of his weaknesses, and his ability on the ball is another tool in his locker. However, don't expect him to be flawless. Do, however, expect him to be aggressive and strong on the tackle. He'll go in early, and he won't pull back on his challenges.
 
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Im not convinced about him, I havent watch him play but there's no fuss about him and no other top teams seem interested.
There's plenty of tape out there. I've watched him a bit - think first post saying he could be an option was a couple of years back, still think he is.

From what I've seen, looks fine over 10-15 yards, strong, can play a simple pass and a good attacking option at FKs/corners. I'm a bit simplistic when it comes to defenders ... not that bothered about getting the next Koeman, just a solid no-nonsense defender.

Also plays RB which would be very useful cover to have?

Is he the next Rio or even VVD? Almost definitely not. But he's not a newbie and has had 3 years of international football and 3 years in Seria A which is not a bad grounding for a defender.

People are talking about a lot more for Kounde. May well be the next big thing but still a gamble of sorts.. younger than Milenkovic, no international experience, year or more less club experience.

(Seems like Mazhar13 is the resident expert. Few posts above).
 
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Zoo

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I'm sorry, but this is analysis is quite superficial and something that anyone can conjure up. It uses stats without offering much context to them, and it compares him to a stylistically different defender playing in a stylistically different team.

For context, Milenkovic plays in a back 3. German Pezzella plays as a covering defender, whilst Milenkovic and the LCB play as stoppers. Fiorentina like to keep their back 3 in line and have them drop quite deep, mainly into the box. As the RCB, Milenkovic goes out to the flanks to support his wing back and look to win the ball. He gets into lots of 1-on-1 battles with the opposition ball holder on the right flank, and he tends to throw his foot in quite often. When the ball's on Fiorentina's right flank but not close to Milenkovic, Milenkovic himself tends to ball-watch and lose sight of runners. That's fine in Fiorentina as he expects Pezzella to deal with that whilst Pulgar and Amrabat plug the midfield gaps. With United, however, he'll have to take charge of passes behind him as well, something which I don't see him do often at Fiorentina unless he's dealing with a pass out to the flank.

When he has to deal with crosses from the near side, he always goes towards the near post and tends to do a decent job of dealing with them. However, he rarely if ever, stops cutbacks towards the penalty spot, and he rarely, if ever, positions himself to stop them. Once again, that's a consequence of how Fiorentina play, but it goes to show you what he tends to deal with. He's very good at defending the far post, but when he gets sucked into the middle, he tends to lose awareness of what goes on behind him. Once again, Fiorentina's setup, but there you go.

On the ball, he's still a safe player and doesn't tend to go forward with the ball so much. Fiorentina tend to use Castrovilli to drift out wide to support the wing back, and Milenkovic tends to stay back with the rest of the back 3 to cover the right side. Don't expect him to go on marauding runs with United or play raking long passes often.

Overall, I think he's getting a bit overhyped due to the United links. The fact that he's quick despite being quite tall means that he can overcome most of his weaknesses, and his ability on the ball is another tool in his locker. However, don't expect him to be flawless. Do, however, expect him to be aggressive and strong on the tackle. He'll go in early, and he won't pull back on his challenges.
This isn’t some reactionary analysis though - this person was calling for United to sign Milenkovic or Ruben Dias last summer. Milenkovic has also played a fair bit in a back 4 I believe, for both club and country.
 

passing-wind

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I'd take Konate over him, who id put behind Kounde as a priority. The next defender needs to be a clear superior to Lindlelof / Bailey not someone to add to the numbers.
 

mazhar13

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This isn’t some reactionary analysis though - this person was calling for United to sign Milenkovic or Ruben Dias last summer. Milenkovic has also played a fair bit in a back 4 I believe, for both club and country.
Fair enough if that's the case. Still, I don't want the player to get overhyped only to get overly criticised or even insulted if he doesn't meet expectations.

Regarding Fiorentina, he's played in a back 3 since last season. Before that, he'd switch between right back and centre back. He's also played in a back 3 for Serbia in their Nations League matches (I don't know about how he performs for them, though).
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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Only watched Fiorentina 3x this season, vs Juventus, Napoli and second half Spezia. He was very good especially defensively vs Juventus, I remember he had 1 v 1 situation vs Ronaldo and dealt it very well, won the ball back from ronaldo. vs Napoli was meh they lost 6-0 while not much to do vs Spezia. Need to watch him more to see him more but his ball playing ability isn’t impressive. Fiorentina has been playing 3 at the back so not sure whether he can adapt to play 2 pair of CB. However, I don’t mind if we end up with him depends on the fees (20m-25m or less may be), I think he has talent and worth for a punt.
 

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Only watched Fiorentina 3x this season, vs Juventus, Napoli and second half Spezia. He was very good especially defensively vs Juventus, I remember he had 1 v 1 situation vs Ronaldo and dealt it very well, won the ball back from ronaldo. vs Napoli was meh they lost 6-0 while not much to do vs Spezia. Need to watch him more to see him more but his ball playing ability isn’t impressive. Fiorentina has been playing 3 at the back so not sure whether he can adapt to play 2 pair of CB. However, I don’t mind if we end up with him depends on the fees (20m-25m or less may be), I think he has talent and worth for a punt.
He’s played in a 4-man defence for Serbia so it wouldn’t be new to him.

He has been linked with other teams. He was linked with Inter at the beginning of the season as a replacement for Skriniar, but I’m glad we kept Skriniar - Milenkovic is good though.
 

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In the era of Covid financials, Milenkovic would be an astute cheap buy. Big upgrade on Lindelof's weaknesses. Leader in defense as well, though it'll be funny him directing our captain. We can spend big on the other targets like Sancho/Halland. My perfect summer would be one of those two, Milenkovic and Zakaria (who won't cost a ton too).
 

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Im not convinced about him, I havent watch him play but there's no fuss about him and no other top teams seem interested. We already have average/goodish CBs, we need a great one.
:lol:
 

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He has only missed one game in his Fiorentina career thus far and that was in 2017 due to a fever. I've liked him as a player since I watched him play for Serbia in the world cup age 20 and followed his progress at Fiorentina there after for a whole season but haven't watched him much in the last 18 months.

Milenkovic along with Konate were my choices for a new CB before we opted to pay up for Maguire, so it'll be interesting to see how things unfold in the coming months. I think the 'Serbian Tower' would be a crowd favourite at OT.
 

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Could live with that if we could got a decent striker, not going to bother suggesting a top class DM because clearly the club don't give a toss about addressing this issue so no point in wasting my breath
You do realise that there’s not a magic pot of gold?
 

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Kounde is short and Konate is injury prone. Milenkovic is at the right age, he's got the right height + skillset and on top of that he won't cost us a fortune. That means that if he turns out to be a moron who can't think, he can't defend, he can't lead, he can't run and would only show passion while on holiday then the club won't look silly by replacing him
 
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devilish

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When people say he’s pacey how pacey are we talking ? Are we talking Smalling levels for a centre back ? I was under the impression he wasn’t great in the air which is why he used to be shifted out as right back ? Is he better than Kounde or a fit Konate as a fit alongside Maguire ?
Milenkovic was moved to RB for two reasons but not because he's not great in air. Serie A strikers tend to be shorter then those in the EPL so someone whose 6ft5 would win the aerial duel quite easily. To answer your question

a- His positioning and passing was a bit iffy. You can't really blame him for that considering that he was a 20 year old kid who used to play with Partizan
b- He carried himself well as RB. He was strong and he had good ball playing ability
 

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Milenkovic was moved to RB for two reasons but not because he's not great in air. Serie A strikers tend to be shorter then those in the EPL so someone whose 6ft5 would win the aerial duel quite easily. To answer your question

a- His positioning and passing was a bit iffy. You can't really blame him for that considering that he was a 20 year old kid who used to play with Partizan
b- He carried himself well as RB. He was strong and he had good ball playing ability
Is he good enough to start for United as a regular title challenging team immediately if not would he be in future and whether he is a good fit alongside Maguire.
 

devilish

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Is he good enough to start for United as a regular title challenging team immediately if not would he be in future and whether he is a good fit alongside Maguire.
There's not many ready made WC players around and none of them are available. Thus we need to focus on those with the right potential/characteristics to succeed. Milenkovic is one of them.
 

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I’d swap those 2 for a wheelie bin so the bar isn’t particularly high
:lol: Big shame it didn't work out with Bailly but the guy is ridiculously unreliable.
Kounde is short and Konate is injury prone. Milenkovic is at the right age, he's got the right height + skillset and on top of that he won't cost us a fortune. That means that if he turns out to be a moron who can't think, he can't defend, he can't lead, he can't run and would only show passion while on holiday then the club won't look silly by replacing him
It would make a hell of a lot of sense and would allow us to spend more on a forward. Targeting Milenkovic with 1 year left on his contract and Sancho with 2 years left seems like the obvious play. Get it done Edwood Woodwood. I wonder what the club's thinking is re. Pogba. We need a DM already, Pogba leaving really kicks things into touch.
 

devilish

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:lol: Big shame it didn't work out with Bailly but the guy is ridiculously unreliable.

It would make a hell of a lot of sense and would allow us to spend more on a forward. Targeting Milenkovic with 1 year left on his contract and Sancho with 2 years left seems like the obvious play. Get it done Edwood Woodwood. I wonder what the club's thinking is re. Pogba. We need a DM already, Pogba leaving really kicks things into touch.
Exactly.

I find this 'I don't want him unless he's at par to Rio, Baresi and Bobby Moore' argument as BS tbh.

A- There's no one remotely as good as that. Actually I can count WC CBs on one hand
B- United's CB department is a mess. Maguire is overrated, Lindelof is not very good either while Bailly, Tuanzebe and Jones are injury prone. Milenkovic might not become WC but he can easily knock those lot off their perch
C- Such snobbery would have made us miss out on top quality talent such as Evra, Vidic and Johnsen. None of them were remotely WC level when we signed them up.

So let's focus on the characteristics players need to succeed instead of name/reputation. Milenkovic tick most boxes.
 

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Sure we can strike gold like with Bruno, or he can be another Bailly, Lindelof, Rojo, Blind, etc when top teams aren't interested theyre usually right with an odd exception here and there. Do you think its wise to gamble on a CB at this moment when we already have 3 godish ones?
I don’t think it’s a gamble at all. He isn’t going to cost much, can fill in at RB and actually has 3 seasons of solid experience. He isn’t hyped because he plays for a mid table team in Serie A vs a top club in Germany. I can verify personally that he is better than the 4 aforementioned names. Besides, if it hadn’t been for Bailly’s injuries, he would have been a decent CB.
 

devilish

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Sure we can strike gold like with Bruno, or he can be another Bailly, Lindelof, Rojo, Blind, etc when top teams aren't interested theyre usually right with an odd exception here and there. Do you think its wise to gamble on a CB at this moment when we already have 3 godish ones?
Bailly is injury prone, Rojo is shit, Blind is a midget and Lindelof is not good in air. Milenkovic might not be Rio and he needs to bulk up and adapt to a game played at faster tempo. However he's an excellent CB whose got decent positioning, great ball possession skills and can move forward with the ball. At 6ft5 he's hardly going to be beaten in air either.

My only worry is whether we can provide him with a decent partner who can protect him and guide him. Neither Maguire nor Lindelof are very good in what they do.
 

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https://fbref.com/en/players/bee704fc/scout/365_euro/Nikola-Milenkovic-Scouting-Report

Obligatory stats. Don't watch him at all so I'll just go through and break down notable stats.
  • 96th percentile in aerial success rate, so very clearly a strength (Maguire is 93rd).
  • 90+ percentile in xG as well for a CB, and 80+ in shots so that would mean he's a much bigger threat from corners than what we have now.
  • For reference, Maguire is 98th for total shots but 27th for shots on target (misses the target loads), and 75th for xG. Milenkovic is 68th percentile for shots on target, so statistically a much bigger threat in the opposition box.
  • Passing stats all way down from Maguire, so I wouldn't expect much influence in build up play. Much lower than Lindelof too for comparison
  • Defensive stats all up, likely style related though, or possibly Milenkovic when he plays as a right back (not sure how frequent) would influence that.
Anyway, defensively it's hard to tell how good a defender is from analytics, but things like aerial success rate and ability at attacking set pieces and corners are easy to see. Enough of a difference in passing stats to say that it's a drop off from Lindelof/Maguire too.
 

SAFMUTD

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Bailly is injury prone, Rojo is shit, Blind is a midget and Lindelof is not good in air. Milenkovic might not be Rio and he needs to bulk up and adapt to a game played at faster tempo. However he's an excellent CB whose got decent positioning, great ball possession skills and can move forward with the ball. At 6ft5 he's hardly going to be beaten in air either.

My only worry is whether we can provide him with a decent partner who can protect him and guide him. Neither Maguire nor Lindelof are very good in what they do.
My doubt is that if he's all that you say then why no other top teams seem to be interested?

I suspect the only reason why we are showing interest is that he's got only 1 year left of contract and we think we can get him cheap, but as I said earlier we need a top CB, we already have a bunch of average/goodish ones.
 

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Anyway, defensively it's hard to tell how good a defender is from analytics, but things like aerial success rate and ability at attacking set pieces and corners are easy to see. Enough of a difference in passing stats to say that it's a drop off from Lindelof/Maguire too.
Judging a defender on pure stats is difficult, as it is by watching highlights. The stats help you determine what kind of player he is.. e.g. ariel success rate but other than those it is difficult.

You can put a stat showing Lindelof never gets dribbled past but that is because he is a passive defender.

You almost have to watch a game and watch the defender all game, to judge how good they are at positioning, marking, decision making, clearing, composure.

I don't think we need a big name, we need someone who will be dominant in the air and on the ground. You shall not pass attitude.
 

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I don’t think it’s a gamble at all. He isn’t going to cost much, can fill in at RB and actually has 3 seasons of solid experience. He isn’t hyped because he plays for a mid table team in Serie A vs a top club in Germany. I can verify personally that he is better than the 4 aforementioned names. Besides, if it hadn’t been for Bailly’s injuries, he would have been a decent CB.
I get it that we would be low risk because he would be cheap, I'm not against buying these kind of players. My issue is that at this particular time with funds limited because covid I think we should focus of buying "solid" top players.

He may come around good, but we dont need good we need great. Our defense is a mess, we need a VVD/Ruben Dias kind of improvement. I just dont think he'll had that kind of impact.

Again I haven't watched him play once, I drawing this conclusions just on the fact that no top teams have shown interest. So I could be totally mistaken and he could be a hidden gem that somehow most top clubs have overlooked.
 

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Again I haven't watched him play once, I drawing this conclusions just on the fact that no top teams have shown interest. So I could be totally mistaken and he could be a hidden gem that somehow most top clubs have overlooked.
Most top clubs want household names.

Upamecano, Varane etc... but we have seen they are shaky too.

Bruno was a player no club showed interest in. I think you can find these hidden gems is better than spending on a big name with high expectations.
 

SAFMUTD

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Most top clubs want household names.

Upamecano, Varane etc... but we have seen they are shaky too.

Bruno was a player no club showed interest in. I think you can find these hidden gems is better than spending on a big name with high expectations.
Hidden gems are really hard to find, thats why theyre called that way. I dont think its feasible to think we can strike hidden gem players in every tranfers. It's definitely good recruitment but also luck, I dont think we are currently in a position where we can gamble on finding the next gem. Not in defence at least where we've been a mess this season. If we were to sign him and another household name CB I wouldnt be against it, but if we are limiting our CB incomes which I think would pretty much be the case then I would preffer us to go for a more hyped CB.
 

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Hidden gems are really hard to find, thats why theyre called that way. I dont think its feasible to think we can strike hidden gem players in every tranfers. It's definitely good recruitment but also luck, I dont think we are currently in a position where we can gamble on finding the next gem. Not in defence at least where we've been a mess this season. If we were to sign him and another household name CB I wouldnt be against it, but if we are limiting our CB incomes which I think would pretty much be the case then I would preffer us to go for a more hyped CB.
Who is a more hyped CB that you say is rock solid?

I agree hidden gems are hard to find and its luck. We have scouts for a reason and they have to find a player that fits the profile that suits Maguire because ultimately, the aim is to find a partner for Maguire.


The position we find ourselves is quite dangerous atm, we need a CB, CDM, Sancho and a ST. We cannot spend too much money on each position considering our budget is probably £80m.

That will buy you Sancho only with the other positions not being addressed. So signing a £20m CB may be the way we go this summer.
 

devilish

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My doubt is that if he's all that you say then why no other top teams seem to be interested?

I suspect the only reason why we are showing interest is that he's got only 1 year left of contract and we think we can get him cheap, but as I said earlier we need a top CB, we already have a bunch of average/goodish ones.
Johnsen spent most of his career with shit sides prior signing for us in his late 20s. Stam was wanted by Juve and us. Juve laughed at its fee and Stam had to forfeit his signing on fee bonus to sign with us. Sir Alex laughed at Rio's 18m move to Leeds. Prior of signing with us Vidic was close to sign for Fiorentina. Cannavaro was involved in a straight swap with Carini (a roy Carroll level of keeper). Should I add more?

It's very rare for world class CBs to switch sides. All clubs can do is to quickly snap punts with the right characteristics to succeed and hope for the best
 

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Saw him play once and he was shit. Spent all of his time fluting around in midfield. Plus he was wearing a Lazio jersey.
 

SAFMUTD

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Who is a more hyped CB that you say is rock solid?

I agree hidden gems are hard to find and its luck. We have scouts for a reason and they have to find a player that fits the profile that suits Maguire because ultimately, the aim is to find a partner for Maguire.


The position we find ourselves is quite dangerous atm, we need a CB, CDM, Sancho and a ST. We cannot spend too much money on each position considering our budget is probably £80m.

That will buy you Sancho only with the other positions not being addressed. So signing a £20m CB may be the way we go this summer.
I can't think of a rock solid defender, because not even proven ones are warranted. But there are "safer" bets I think the obvious one being Kounde. Upamecano never really convinced me and he just signed for Bayern so that ship has sailed and while Konate looks the real deal his injury record is worrying to say the least.

I agree we need a lot of positions to be filled and with a limited budget because of the pandemic, thats exactly why I think we should use the little budget on big signings. Reinfornce 1-2 positions with solid players instead of several ones with goodish ones.

Last summer we spent 75M, and I think we can all agree that theres been not much impact from those players. Diallo is one for the future, but Telles and specially VDB don't seem like theyre good enough at the moment.

With that kind of money we could had bought one big name player and probably would have solved one of those problems (CB, CDM, RW or ST).
 

SAFMUTD

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Johnsen spent most of his career with shit sides prior signing for us in his late 20s. Stam was wanted by Juve and us. Juve laughed at its fee and Stam had to forfeit his signing on fee bonus to sign with us. Sir Alex laughed at Rio's 18m move to Leeds. Prior of signing with us Vidic was close to sign for Fiorentina. Cannavaro was involved in a straight swap with Carini (a roy Carroll level of keeper). Should I add more?

It's very rare for world class CBs to switch sides. All clubs can do is to quickly snap punts with the right characteristics to succeed and hope for the best
Yes Im not saying its imposible to land this kind unknown players who turn out to be great bargains, and Im sure there are plenty ore examples like the ones you mentioned. But for everyone of those examples there are 10 times more failures, the exception doesnt make the rule. At the end of the day its a low risk-low cost bet, and its that way because there's a low probability they'll make it big, of course you'll strike gold now and then but most of the times you wont.

With our limited budget I would rather go for the "safer" bet, even if that means landing just 1 or 2 players instead of 3-4.
 

Judas

Open to offers
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
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19,527
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Where the grass is greener.
The "safer bet" doesn't even always work out, we've spunked so much money on big signings that's have failed to take us as team that far forward. I'd take a well scouted cheaper CB option, which allows us to spend elsewhere and fix other issues.
 

Adamsk7

Full Member
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Aug 17, 2014
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Yeah we don't have a never ending money tree - Covid has hit every club where it hurts. This looks like a good deal considering what we'll end up paying for Kounde or Konate ( I don't think the 40m price for Nikola with one year on his contract is correct ) and if it means we can also get Sancho and a Pogba replacement presuming he goes then I am all for it. Looks a good player whenever I've seen him.