Nikola Milenkovic

tjb

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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.
He plays for Fiorentina is Serie A ( a league where defensive possession is rarer)
 

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I really like his «profile» (age, size, physique, type, background) and that he is never injured. It must do his development a lot of good. Not sure about his quality.

Unless it is a proven, very special talent, I would stay clear of the youngest talents.

I discussed it with a former player who was a good CB while watching Upamecano against LFC. I tried arguing that young CBs often makes more mistakes due to a lack of experience, but he made another argument that was interesting.

He told me he had to change his insurance for his son to be allowed to borrow his car. Statistic prove that men below 25 are a bigger risk in traffic. Incidentally, there is also a lot of research that prove that the brain develop until we are 25. Young men are poor at making risk assessments until the brain is fully developed. When you look at the development of several young CBs (ie players like Stones, van Dijk or even Lindelof) that actually makes sense. It also makes sense when you look at what CBs who has been a success for Man Utd.

His main argument was that young men are usually more than ready physically at the age of 22-23, but to play at CB for a top club with all the scrutiny involved, you need to be very mature and you need to handle risk well. It is different for attackers where you are rewarded for taking risk.

Milenkovic, Caleta-Car and Pau Torres is interesting options in my opinion.
 

mazhar13

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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.
He plays for Fiorentina is Serie A ( a league where defensive possession is rarer)
tjb is right. Unless you play for Atalanta, you won't get too many chances to do much on the ball as a defender. I do remember watching Milenkovic a couple of times as a right back for Fiorentina, and he didn't look too bad on the ball, so there's hope for him. He's good at carrying the ball forward, at least, but I don't know if his passing will be expansive enough for us. We've seen how our centre backs often go long to get in behind the defensive lines. I'm not sure if Milenkovic has that in his locker.
 

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Is him and Maguire as a pairing too slow?
Milenkovic + Maguire will be like Bailly + Maguire. Don't underestimate Milenkovic's pace. He's not a speedster (very, very, very few CBs are in all of football history), but he's fast enough to keep up with speedy players (hence why he's played at full back in the past).
 

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Milenkovic + Maguire will be like Bailly + Maguire. Don't underestimate Milenkovic's pace. He's not a speedster (very, very, very few CBs are in all of football history), but he's fast enough to keep up with speedy players (hence why he's played at full back in the past).
Cheers mate. I have never seen him play hence the ask. I was thinking if his pace is like with Vidic who was not exactly very fast but has brilliant defensive qualities besides pace (i was kind of comparing them because they were both Serbs). But you mentioned he's Bailly-quick so i think he'll be grand
 
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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.
You're assuming we had plans for "3 or 4" though.

I think it's more likely 2 and if we want Haaland, that's a lot of the pot so Haaland and Milenkovic would still be £100m+ after a year of lost income/CV19

If we sell Pogba, there's more money (though no guarantee the Glazers spend it) but rather than spend £50m, £60m plus on a CH, I'd rather we use it to go for a Def Mid.

Would we want another VVD? Absolutely (though younger). But that comes at a cost and we're not spending £60m-£80m on each of a forward, a CH, a Def Mid and a winger
 

SAFMUTD

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You're assuming we had plans for "3 or 4" though.

I think it's more likely 2 and if we want Haaland, that's a lot of the pot so Haaland and Milenkovic would still be £100m+ after a year of lost income/CV19

If we sell Pogba, there's more money (though no guarantee the Glazers spend it) but rather than spend £50m, £60m plus on a CH, I'd rather we use it to go for a Def Mid.

Would we want another VVD? Absolutely (though younger). But that comes at a cost and we're not spending £60m-£80m on each of a forward, a CH, a Def Mid and a winger
At this point I dont think we need depth, we need quality. So I would rather dont sign anyone and save that money for the next window. We've seen in the past how we have struggle to ship out deadwood, and signing average players is not going to help that case. Imagine we buy him and he's not a great CB, which is the likeliest to happen, next summer we'll be talking about how we still need a CB but that we need to get rid of someone first.
 
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We've seen in the past how we have struggle to ship out deadwood, and signing average players is not going to help that case. Imagine we buy him and he's not a great CB, which is the likeliest to happen, next summer we'll be talking about how we still need a CB but that we need to get rid of someone first.
And this is for a player you've said you've never seen? :)

And not sure why it's likely... 3 years in Seria A and playing with the national team. He's not an U21s gamble.
 

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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).
+1 for that summer. Quality and value there I think.
 

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Milenkovic + Maguire will be like Bailly + Maguire. Don't underestimate Milenkovic's pace. He's not a speedster (very, very, very few CBs are in all of football history), but he's fast enough to keep up with speedy players (hence why he's played at full back in the past).
Can he organise a defence better than what we currently have? Get that right and we'll be a different team.
 

SAFMUTD

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And this is for a player you've said you've never seen? :)

And not sure why it's likely... 3 years in Seria A and playing with the national team. He's not an U21s gamble.
What do you think is likeliest to happen? him being great meaning (Ramos, VVD, Ruben Dias level) or him being average/good?

You don't have to see him to know its a fact that the odds are against him becoming a worldclass defender, which is what we should be looking for.
 

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I just can’t see us signing a centre back this summer for some weird reason.

I think we need one - but I really don’t think we’ll sign one.
 

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Apparently Laurie Whitwell suggests this is all “agent driven” and Mitten suggests Kounde has been “extensively watched” in the latest Talk of the Devils podcast.
 

devilish

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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.
Is Milenkovic an unknown player though? The guy had played around 107 games in the Serie A scoring 10 goals in the process. He's a full fledged international with more then 26 games with Serbia. If rumours are to be believed he's courted by AC Milan, Liverpool and us as well. If you ask me then he's got more top flight experience then Vidic, Pallister and Johnsen had when they joined us

I might sympathise with your idea if there was a prime Rio or even a Van Dijk available that we could buy. That is not the case. Kounde is hardly a world class player and he's short, Konate has the right characteristics but he's injury prone, De Ligt is at Juventus and while he's doing well he's hardly WC there either, Chiellini is ancient, Varane is injury prone and he's probably unavailable etc. The only top CB I can think is Alaba and let's face it, Bundesliga players had hardly set the EPL on fire either.

Milenkovic has the right characteristics and he won't break the bank. That means that we can invest on a top quality striker and possible another winger. If he succeeds then we would make the steal of the year. If he doesn't exceed the expectations set then we'll have a decent cover that would allow us to get rid of one of the many injury prone CBs we've got.
 

SAFMUTD

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Is Milenkovic an unknown player though? The guy had played around 107 games in the Serie A scoring 10 goals in the process. He's a full fledged international with more then 26 games with Serbia. If rumours are to be believed he's courted by AC Milan, Liverpool and us as well. If you ask me then he's got more top flight experience then Vidic, Pallister and Johnsen had when they joined us

I might sympathise with your idea if there was a prime Rio or even a Van Dijk available that we could buy. That is not the case. Kounde is hardly a world class player and he's short, Konate has the right characteristics but he's injury prone, De Ligt is at Juventus and while he's doing well he's hardly WC there either, Chiellini is ancient, Varane is injury prone and he's probably unavailable etc. The only top CB I can think is Alaba and let's face it, Bundesliga players had hardly set the EPL on fire either.

Milenkovic has the right characteristics and he won't break the bank. That means that we can invest on a top quality striker and possible another winger. If he succeeds then we would make the steal of the year. If he doesn't exceed the expectations set then we'll have a decent cover that would allow us to get rid of one of the many injury prone CBs we've got.
Unknow to the average fan outside serie A definitely. I dont think many have heard of him before he was linked to us. You say bundesliga players had hardly set the EPL on fire, have you seen how good Smalling looks in Serie A? he even made the team of the year. That should let us know a thing or two about the difference between the EPL and Serie A.

Being an international with Serbia, no disrespect, but doesnt hold much weight for me. Nastasic and Maskimovic are the starting CBs for them for reference. He actually plays as a RB for them I dont know if its because they dont have a good RB or if Nastasic and Maskimovic are above him in the CB pecking order.

Obviously there's no prime Rio or VVD available, those are generational talents that once they reach that potential they become unavailable. The thing is to recruit them so they can reach that level with us.

Again, I have never watch him play but I found hard to believe he is that highly rated, nobody talked about him before he was linked to us and suddendly he is a really good defender. I dont think many here have watch him play they still jump on the gun. We tend to overate players that are linked to us, remember the ecuatorian kid Caicedo? no one knew him but as soon as he was linked to us he was the next jewel from South America, the transfer didn't happen and he's back to being an unknown.

I agree with your last part about he wont be a high risk signing since he should be relatively cheap, but he'd be a Daniel James type of signing. Sure there's a chance he may actually come around but most likely wont. Im not against signing this type of players but if he's the only CB we sign it would be underwhelming at least.
 
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I dont think many have heard of him before he was linked to us. Again, I have never watch him play

remember the ecuatorian kid Caicedo? no one knew him but as soon as he was linked to us he was the next jewel from South America, the transfer didn't happen and he's back to being an unknown.
Think I first posted about him a year or two ago. Several others sooner.

Those two aren't remotely similar. One's a teenager with a handful of games that PL clubs were asked to take a punt on and our name was brought into it... but we didn't.

The other has 3 years of Seria A and international experience (and the same amount of caps as the other two CHs mentioned but he's better than their other RBs).

He's not meant to be VVD but VVD was at Southampton and where were the PL clubs lining up for him?
 

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Wasn't he a Mourinho target a while back. Will probably end up at Spurs with all their defensive issues.

Good player but Fiorentina have been woeful for many seasons now so their matches are a hard watch.
 

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Not asking for a magic pot of gold but just the club to realise we are massively lacking in a proper mobile DM
I’m sure that they are aware but at the moment the priority is seemingly a forward and a CB. I doubt the budget stretches beyond that so no doubt they are thinking that McFred & Matic + Garner probably coming back will be enough. Do I agree? Probably not but we can’t magic new players for every position we need to upgrade. So I reckon this one will be on the back burner unless a young cheap or loan player become available
 

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Again, I have never watch him play but I found hard to believe he is that highly rated, nobody talked about him before he was linked to us and suddendly he is a really good defender. I dont think many here have watch him play they still jump on the gun. We tend to overate players that are linked to us, remember the ecuatorian kid Caicedo? no one knew him but as soon as he was linked to us he was the next jewel from South America, the transfer didn't happen and he's back to being an unknown.
I wouldn't really compare him to Moises Caicedo. Caicedo's actually an unknown entity to the European football fanbase, but Milenkovic was way beyond that. Anyone who follows the Serie A even casually would know about him (unlike, say, Noah Katterbach in the Bundesliga for casual Bundesliga followers). There's a reason for that, too: Milenkovic has been established in Fiorentina's first team for the past 3 seasons, and to do as a defender from the age of 19/20 is quite impressive.

The reason he's not more hyped up is because of the following:
  • Fiorentina have been generally poor and don't play in Europe
  • Milenkovic isn't so expressive on the ball due to Fiorentina's system
Despite that, however, I agree with you over how overhyped he is starting to be. He has all the tools to be a great defender, but at the moment, he hasn't been as imposing or as dominant as Konaté or as extravagant as Upamecano or Koundé.
 

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Can he organise a defence better than what we currently have? Get that right and we'll be a different team.
He's not an organiser. In fact, there are very, very few defenders nowadays who organise the back line (mostly the older defenders) due to the specialisation of roles. Milenkovic just plays his own role and expects others to perform theirs.
 

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Unknow to the average fan outside serie A definitely. I dont think many have heard of him before he was linked to us. You say bundesliga players had hardly set the EPL on fire, have you seen how good Smalling looks in Serie A? he even made the team of the year. That should let us know a thing or two about the difference between the EPL and Serie A.

Being an international with Serbia, no disrespect, but doesnt hold much weight for me. Nastasic and Maskimovic are the starting CBs for them for reference. He actually plays as a RB for them I dont know if its because they dont have a good RB or if Nastasic and Maskimovic are above him in the CB pecking order.

Obviously there's no prime Rio or VVD available, those are generational talents that once they reach that potential they become unavailable. The thing is to recruit them so they can reach that level with us.

Again, I have never watch him play but I found hard to believe he is that highly rated, nobody talked about him before he was linked to us and suddendly he is a really good defender. I dont think many here have watch him play they still jump on the gun. We tend to overate players that are linked to us, remember the ecuatorian kid Caicedo? no one knew him but as soon as he was linked to us he was the next jewel from South America, the transfer didn't happen and he's back to being an unknown.

I agree with your last part about he wont be a high risk signing since he should be relatively cheap, but he'd be a Daniel James type of signing. Sure there's a chance he may actually come around but most likely wont. Im not against signing this type of players but if he's the only CB we sign it would be underwhelming at least.
To be fair, he’s been linked with us since under Mourinho and last summer linked with both Milan clubs. He’s not really unknown. He’s pretty well known before even Upamecano. It’s just he’s been playing as a right back a lot back then since he was still very young & raw for CB and clubs probably hesitated to sign him for high fees like 50m or something and now he only has 1 year left which trigger clubs to sign him or may be agent to offer him to clubs.
 

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Apparently Laurie Whitwell suggests this is all “agent driven” and Mitten suggests Kounde has been “extensively watched” in the latest Talk of the Devils podcast.
Feels like the majority of the time players playing in Serie A getting linked to us is usually the clubs or agents using our name.
To be fair, we have scouted him ever since Mourinho was the manager. He might still be on our shortlist, but we may not necessarily be actively working to get him. Only the Florentine news sources have been reporting on Milenkovic likely to be going to United. Whenever any non-Italian source reports on this, it's to state our interest in him but not necessarily that we're acting on acquiring him.
 

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To be fair, he’s been linked with us since under Mourinho and last summer linked with both Milan clubs. He’s not really unknown. He’s pretty well known before even Upamecano. It’s just he’s been playing as a right back a lot back then since he was still very young & raw for CB and clubs probably hesitated to sign him for high fees like 50m or something and now he only has 1 year left which trigger clubs to sign him or may be agent to offer him to clubs.
That even raises more doubts doesnt it? if we were interested in him since 3 years ago why havent we make a move? why no other club have been willing to pull the trigger?

I think just like you, the club is not convinced but its thinking we can get him on a cheap so he may be worth the punt.
 

UNITED ACADEMY

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That even raises more doubts doesnt it? if we were interested in him since 3 years ago why havent we make a move? why no other club have been willing to pull the trigger?

I think just like you, the club is not convinced but its thinking we can get him on a cheap so he may be worth the punt.
I have given you explanation why us and no others clubs willing to pull it. Read the post again and it will answer your questions.
 

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Comparing a Serbian international who's played in a world cup, and is one of the highest rated defenders in Europe, do Daniel James who was brought in from the championship to be a squad player is absurd.
 

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He plays for Fiorentina is Serie A ( a league where defensive possession is rarer)
And he plays in a back 3. Fiorentina have played a back 3 in 19 of 23 matches in serie A this season.

I suspect that will influence things like his pressures where he fares well, but maybe its easier and more often that you press a player when you are right of a back 3 because you have to come out to head off players at rightback and you have 2 other CBs who can be left to control the middle.

When you compare him with the Inter, Roma and Atalanta CBs - the teams doing the best with 3 CBs in Serie A this season, Romero, Mancini and Ibanez all press more than he does with Milenkovic 3rd of 6 in front of Bastoni and Skriniar.

6 CBs in 3 man defences in Serie A
 

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Unknow to the average fan outside serie A definitely. I dont think many have heard of him before he was linked to us. You say bundesliga players had hardly set the EPL on fire, have you seen how good Smalling looks in Serie A? he even made the team of the year. That should let us know a thing or two about the difference between the EPL and Serie A.

Being an international with Serbia, no disrespect, but doesnt hold much weight for me. Nastasic and Maskimovic are the starting CBs for them for reference. He actually plays as a RB for them I dont know if its because they dont have a good RB or if Nastasic and Maskimovic are above him in the CB pecking order.

Obviously there's no prime Rio or VVD available, those are generational talents that once they reach that potential they become unavailable. The thing is to recruit them so they can reach that level with us.

Again, I have never watch him play but I found hard to believe he is that highly rated, nobody talked about him before he was linked to us and suddendly he is a really good defender. I dont think many here have watch him play they still jump on the gun. We tend to overate players that are linked to us, remember the ecuatorian kid Caicedo? no one knew him but as soon as he was linked to us he was the next jewel from South America, the transfer didn't happen and he's back to being an unknown.

I agree with your last part about he wont be a high risk signing since he should be relatively cheap, but he'd be a Daniel James type of signing. Sure there's a chance he may actually come around but most likely wont. Im not against signing this type of players but if he's the only CB we sign it would be underwhelming at least.
Well then fan really needs to get educated. Fiorentina consistently develop rough diamonds to sell them to top clubs. Bernardeschi and Chiesa had been the latest example of what I am saying but the most famous of the lot were probably Roberto Baggio and Gabriel Batistuta. The club had better days but they are still a tough nut to crack. Being in the Serie A means playing against opposition such as Juventus, Inter, the remerging AC Milan, Roma, Atalanta and co. So you really can't compare them to a championship side.

Regarding Smalling, I believe that we fans should really really rethink the way we see him. Mike had been the best CB we've had since Rio-Vidic left. Apart from the disastrous 2018-2019 when Mou basically down the tools and Ole had to come to the rescue mid way, the defence with Smalling in it consistently conceded less goals then the 2019-2020 one (with Maguire). Sure his passing and ball playing ability are weak but defensive wise he's, in my opinion, better then both Lindelof and Mr 80m.

Milenkovic has been linked to us for years and is now linked to Liverpool and Milan as well. The trouble with Fiorentina is that they are a reluctant selling club who do sell players but love to take their pound of flesh. Also if they sell one big name then they'll certainly won't sell another in the same transfer window. Which means that Milenkovic was not for sale for most of the time and when he was, he was simply too expensive.
 

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I reckon he'd do really well with us. This is based on nothing of course, but I'm sticking with it.
 

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I find it weird that people put Serie A defenders down because Smalling was one of the top 5 defenders in that league.

Smalling was one of the top 5 defenders in the PL towards his last few years.
 

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I find it weird that people put Serie A defenders down because Smalling was one of the top 5 defenders in that league.

Smalling was one of the top 5 defenders in the PL towards his last few years.
There's very good players in every top league and one shouldn't put any league down IMO. We signed Nemanja Vidic from Spartak Moscow so it just goes to show there's talent everywhere if a club is prepared to take a calculated risk.
 
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Bebestation

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There's very good players in every top league and one shouldn't put any league down IMO. We signed Nemanja Vidic from Spartak Moscow so it just goes to show there's talent everywhere if a club wants to take a calculated risk.
Yeah, I mean I'm not a scout and not seen Milenkovic much but you can see from his defending that he isnt a passive defender like Lindelof, has a decent passing ability and is very tall to be a strong presence in the air. Add to that he doesnt cost much.

If we want him I can see why because against the defenders we have competing for his position - Milenkovic looks like a better defender than the ones we currently have (1 is soft vs 1 injury prone).

If we dont go for him, I can maybe feel that he can be a bit sloppy in his gameplay (when going in for a tackle for example) and maybe a little slower than our ideal CB partner for Maguire (but I dont think it's that much of an issue personally).

I dont see why it needs a league to put down a defender - in particular because you can see a defender's ability quite clearly to keep hard situations within control in comparison to a striker that plays well against poor defenses.
 

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Yeah, I mean I'm not a scout and not seen Milenkovic much but you can see from his defending that he isnt a passive defender like Lindelof, has a decent passing ability and is very tall to be a strong presence in the air. Add to that he doesnt cost much.

If we want him I can see why because against the defenders we have competing for his position - Milenkovic looks like a better defender than the ones we currently have (1 is soft vs 1 injury prone).

If we dont go for him, I can maybe feel that he can be a bit sloppy in his gameplay (when going in for a tackle for example) and maybe a little slower than our ideal CB partner for Maguire (but I dont think it's that much of an issue personally).

I dont see why it needs a league to put down a defender - in particular because you can see a defender's ability quite clearly to keep hard situations within control in comparison to a striker that plays well against poor defenses.
I completely agree with you mate. Leagues like the Eredivisie in Holland for example has historically produced top talent. Ligue 1 in France produce the best talent in Europe IMO but still get called a farmers league. But some of our fans forget that if it wasn't for the talents produced from those leagues, our league would be worse of.
 

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I wouldn't really compare him to Moises Caicedo. Caicedo's actually an unknown entity to the European football fanbase, but Milenkovic was way beyond that. Anyone who follows the Serie A even casually would know about him (unlike, say, Noah Katterbach in the Bundesliga for casual Bundesliga followers). There's a reason for that, too: Milenkovic has been established in Fiorentina's first team for the past 3 seasons, and to do as a defender from the age of 19/20 is quite impressive.

The reason he's not more hyped up is because of the following:
  • Fiorentina have been generally poor and don't play in Europe
  • Milenkovic isn't so expressive on the ball due to Fiorentina's system
Despite that, however, I agree with you over how overhyped he is starting to be. He has all the tools to be a great defender, but at the moment, he hasn't been as imposing or as dominant as Konaté or as extravagant as Upamecano or Koundé.
He’s not been as hyped as those 2 either simply because of who he plays for
 

golden_blunder

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That even raises more doubts doesnt it? if we were interested in him since 3 years ago why havent we make a move? why no other club have been willing to pull the trigger?

I think just like you, the club is not convinced but its thinking we can get him on a cheap so he may be worth the punt.
We and other clubs had been after/looking at Bruno for years before pulling the trigger. It’s not unusual