So Paul Pogba needs a new challenge somewhere else, which is ironic when you consider that he hasn’t really risen to the challenge at Manchester United. While for the last three seasons he was clearly the United player with the most ability, you couldn’t say that during that time frame he was the one most committed to the cause. Assuming that he does get his wish (along with a significant signing bonus to share with his agent), where exactly does that leave United? How do you replace a player who can do everything? To replicate the attributes which will be missing from midfield when Pogba leaves, Solskjaer may be forced to by two players and given the inflation in the transfer market right now United could end up spending more than they get for the Frenchman.
Is that true? Do we really need two players to replace Pogba? Alternatively, we could go for one player with two surnames:
Sergej Milinković-Savić is the latest name to roll off the production line down at the rumour mill and although we have to take these things with a pinch of salt, this one appears to have more legs than a caterpillar and if we take a quick look at his attributes it’s not difficult to understand why.
He’s only 24 years old, quite tall (6′ 3″) and yet deceptively agile with good ball-control and quick feet. For his current club, Lazio, he’s in the starting line-up virtually every week (29 out of the 32 league games he was available for in 2018/19) and it’s been widely rumoured in the Italian press that Juventus are actively seeking his signature, although their valuation of him reportedly does not match that of his current employer.
While his stats are not quite as impressive as those of the aforementioned Pogba, they still suggest a very good player with his best years in front of him: 21 goals and 10 assists in 88 games during 2017/18 & 2018/19 versus Pogba’s 22 goals and 23 assists in 84 games during the same period.
Would I take him as a replacement for Pogba? Absolutely. Good quality centre-midfielders with an eye for goal are worth their weight in gold, particularly when they display 100% commitment and lead by example. In this modern world where players are brands with bigger social media reach than the clubs they play for it’s increasingly rare for a footballer to galvanise a fanbase simply for playing the game. Milinković-Savić is one such footballer, whose nickname ‘The Sergeant’ hints at the level of respect he commands in Serie A and would be a welcome addition to a United dressing room that has been crying out for a real leader on the pitch since Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra all left in 2014.