One of Juventus main goals for the summer is Milinkovic-Savic’s Serb from Lazio

One of Juventus' main goals for the summer is Milinkovic-Savic's Serb from Lazio

Information about Juventus’ search for a central midfielder in the news reports is beginning to appear in increasing detail. And for several seasons in a row, it most often leads to an old acquaintance – Man United midfielder Paul Pogba, who played for the Turin side from 2012 to 2016. The Frenchman’s contract with Man United expires in June and will not be renewed. And recently it was reported that Paul does not want to stay in the APL, as he is tired of criticism from the British media.

Savings vs. prospects

Needless to say, especially for Italian insiders, this fact reinforces talk of a possible return of Pogba to Juve. Of course, there are other clubs on the planet, but few that will pay Paul like MJ – 15 million euros a year. Perhaps there is only one such club in Europe at the moment – Paris Saint-Germain. And the recent insider from journalist Alfredo Pedulla confirms this view. According to him, Juve representatives met with people around Pogba and made them understand that the Frenchman would have to go as much as 50% wage cuts to get the transfer. And only PSG are ready to pay Paul more than 10 million euros.

Pedulla also noted that Juve see Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic Savic as an alternative to Pogba. The only stumbling block is his transfer fee, the Romans will not go down in their demands less than 70 million euros, so in the long term the signing of Pogba looks more profitable, but only financially, not in terms of sport, which should be the basis of competent managers. And here Milinkovic-Savic is superior to the unstable Pogba in almost all respects.

Of course, no one will deny Pogba’s talent and game intelligence, in this aspect he could claim the “crown” in world soccer in his position, but the difficult character, which is always reflected in the performances, should be considered paramount. The Frenchman is now 29 years old and is having the most depressing peak of his career. It is possible to imagine that Paul, oppressed at MJ, will suddenly give out 3-4 crazy seasons at another club with a more favorable atmosphere for himself. But purely for sporting and competitive reasons, Juventus doesn’t look like the kind of club that would fit Pogba’s mood. It is PSG that looks like that, and with questionable cohesion in the locker room it is unlikely to lose its dominant status in Ligue 1, and other factors are needed for the Champions League. And financially, both the player and the club would be more comfortable.

Juventus needs a ploughman with character to regain the Italian championship, and the Serbian Milinkovic-Savic has those qualities. Let’s also think about the recently acquired by the Turin players Dusan Vlahovic, Sergej’s compatriot, and already on paper, the game ties on the field will look as strong as possible. This season, Sergeant, as fans nicknamed the player, played in 45 matches in all competitions, in which he scored 10 goals and gave 12 assists. Compare this with Pogba – 27 games, 1 goal and 9 assists (4 of them in the match of the 1st round of the APL against Leeds). Of course, Paul is capable of outdoing Savic’s status even on a half version of himself, especially in the less competitive Serie A, but doubts about this should overcome the Turin management. Juve are not in a position to try and hope right now.

A firm stance against ambition and money

Sergeant’s recent seasons with Lazio continue to be accompanied by rumors of interest in him not only from the Bianconeri. The player is also linked with Real Madrid, Liverpool, Inter, and the already mentioned PSG and UEFA. At the end of last year Sergei commented sharply:

I saw so much talk about myself, but I don’t care. The important thing is that Lazio wins

And already in May, Lazio president Claudio Lotito was no less adamant:

Milinkovic-Savic is not for sale. We were offered 140 million euros for him several years ago, but we turned him down.

If we get a favorable offer from a top club, we will inform Sergijej about it.

Of course, we have seen more than once how pathos statements of many players, coaches and presidents after a while laconically lose their value. Milinkovic-Savic’s contract with the Eagles runs through the summer of 2024, and after a year, if he does stay, the talk about leaving will become less categorical. Maybe Serghei likes it at Lazio and feels loyalty to the club, we do not know. And we can only think in the context of Sergeant vs Pogba, and the first one will win by all parameters except media – the T-shirts with Paul’s surname will be bought more willingly, there will be ten times more talk and attention to Juve. However, such “pluses” are hardly of interest to Allegri and, probably, the Bianconeri bosses who have not yet forgotten the situation with Ronaldo.

Two conclusions

The 27-year-old Milinkovic-Savic, with unlimited confidence, is capable of becoming one of Juve’s key players. The Serbian is versatile – he can play as an attacking midfielder and even as a winger. He is excellent at fighting for balls in the air, regularly completes key passes, has a good long-range shot and, most importantly, is mentally stable and able to convey this spirit to his partners. If Juventus select Pogba when he agrees to a pay cut, it would not be a surprise. Faith in the former Paul is capable of forcing club executives to make risky decisions.