Arsenal are currently leading the race to sign Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the January transfer window.
What’s the talk?
That’s according to a report by Italian publication Corriere dello Sport (via Sport Witness), who claim that Arsenal’s ‘interest is confirmed’ in the SS Lazio central midfielder, with Edu said to have already held ‘talks with the agent’ of the 27-year-old.
The report goes on to suggest that the Gunners are ‘considered in pole position in the race’ to sign the Serbia international this winter, before adding that, if a deal cannot be struck with the Serie A side in January, Edu is likely to return in the summer.
Finally, it is claimed that, while Milinkovic-Savic did reject Arsenal in the past, Mikel Arteta‘s side have now been ‘reconsidered’ by the playmaker, with Lazio said to be looking for a figure in the region of €50m (£44m) in order to part with the midfielder.
He’s the “same level as Kevin De Bruyne”
Considering the quite incredible returns Milinkovic-Savic has achieved during his time with Lazio, coupled with central midfield undoubtedly being one area of the pitch in which Arsenal are lacking any real strength in depth, the argument that the 27-year-old would make a fantastic addition to Arteta’s table-topping side this winter is an extremely easy one to make.
Indeed, over his 14 Serie A appearances so far this season, the £53m-rated talent has been in astonishing attacking form, having already scored three goals, registered seven assists and created seven big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.5 shots, making 1.4 key passes and completing 0.9 dribbles per game.
The £101k-per-week midfielder has also caught the eye in metrics more typical of his position, making an average of 1.8 tackles, one interception, 1.6 clearances and winning 7.1 duels – at a success rate of 55% – per match, in addition to playing an average of 2.7 long balls and completing 39.9 passes – at a success rate of 79% – per fixture.
These returns have seen the Spain-born playmaker average a quite breathtaking Sofascore match rating of 7.40, not only ranking him as Maurizio Sarri’s best performer in the league but also as the second-best player in the top flight of Italian football as a whole – playing a key role in fourth-placed Lazio get off to an exceptional start to the 2022/23 campaign.
Furthermore, according to FBref, Milinkovic-Savic currently ranks in the top 3% of midfielders in Europe’s big five leagues for non-penalty goals per 90, as well as the top 5% for shots, the top 2% for assists, the top 3% for touches in the opposition penalty area and the top 6% for aerials won – demonstrating just how deadly the 27-year-old is going forwards.
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So impressive has the Serbian star been this year that Ciro Immobile – the midfielder’s teammate at Lazio – went as far as to compare Milinkovic-Savic to Manchester City maestro Kevin De Bruyne, with the Italy international stating earlier this season:
“Trust me, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is magic. He’s on the same level as Kevin de Bruyne.”
And, considering the extraordinary returns the Lazio talisman has achieved in 2022/23, this comparison will not come as a surprise to anyone with a half-decent knowledge of the game, while the prospect of Arsenal landing their own version of De Bruyne for just £44m this winter will undoubtedly be an extremely exciting prospect for everyone involved with the club.