Arsenal are among Juventus as suitors for Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport.
What’s the latest on Arsenal’s interest in Milinkovic-Savic?
The Italian side would look for a deal around the region of €40m (£35m) if they are to sell the Serbian, however, their president Claudio Lotito is trying to negotiate a new deal.
The position of Milinkovic-Savic and his agent remains firm though. He wants to leave when his current contract expires, which is in June 2024.
As per the report, the 28-year-old has aspirations for a leap in quality and, due to the nature of his contract expiration, both Arsenal and Juventus are interested in acquiring his services.
Why Milinkovic-Savic would be the perfect Xhaka upgrade
Granit Xhaka’s career at Arsenal has been through some turbulent patches. Nonetheless, the Switzerland international has turned it around at the Emirates but there is still a need for improvement if the Gunners are going to compete for the Premier League in the coming seasons as well.
The 30-year-old’s full redemption arc may well come to fruition at the end of the season, and that is where it should come to an end.
Signing Milinkovic-Savic, praised for being “one of the best midfielders” that Maurizio Sarri has worked with, would be a clear push in the right direction for the north London side.
The 6 foot 3 titan ranks within the top 3% for non-penalty goals per 90 minutes and the top 3% for assists per 90 minutes, when compared to his positional peers across Europe’s top-five leagues, as per FBref. Considering the advanced positions that Xhaka has been finding himself in this season, the Serbia international’s statistics demonstrate how he can fulfil the same role.
In comparison to Xhaka, the €60m-rated (£52.5m) midfielder has better defensive statistics as well.
While this may be due to the style of football that Lazio play and how it differs from Arsenal’s, there will be comfort among the Gunners’ cognoscenti that he is strong defensively too.
Milinkovic-Savic is also very composed on the ball – especially when holding possession and progressing forward. In comparison to Xhaka, the former Genk midfielder takes more touches on the ball in the middle third (41.7 to 28.3), via FBref. This demonstrates his ability to drive further forward. In fact, he makes 8.8 more carries per 90 minutes than Arsenal’s current left-sided eight.
There is no doubt that the Swiss’ redemption has almost come full circle: winning the Premier League will complete this. However, if Mikel Arteta’s side wants to progress to the highest level, ruthless decisions have to be made and signing Milinkovic-Savic – who journalist Sacha Pisani once hailed as “a different beast” – to replace Xhaka seems a necessary deal.