Manchester City have reportedly had scouts watching Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The Serbia international is attracting interest thanks to his increasingly impressive performances in both Serie A and the UEFA Europa League.
City may be at the front of the queue after having the player watched, according to SportItalia (h/t Calciomercato.com): "The Premier League giants sent a scouting team to Holland this week to watch the Serbian international in action against Vitesse in the Europa League at the request of head coach Pep Guardiola."
The Calciomercato report noted how Lazio are getting used to protracted transfer sagas involving their top players. Forward Keita Balde joining AS Monaco this summer, along with Liverpool and Juventus showing interest in centre-back Stefan de Vrij, were cited as examples of Lazio dealing with interest in the key members of manager Simone Inzaghi's squad.
The fact City manager Pep Guardiola has requested a watching brief on 22-year-old Milinkovic-Savic is also telling. It speaks to City's desire to eventually refresh their options in midfield.
Getting younger in the middle will soon be a pressing need for a squad still reliant on a few veteran playmakers. Chief among them are 31-year-old David Silva and 34-year-old Yaya Toure.
The latter is out of contract next summer and has been absent from both of City's last two matchday squads. Guardiola explained the value of Toure this season, per James Robson of the Manchester Evening News: "We need him. I need him and the team needs him. He was so important last season. He'll be so important this season."
Yet as Robson noted, "Guardiola mysteriously claimed the Ivorian knew the 'reasons why' he'd been frozen out - raising fresh doubts about his future."
Silva's career with City is more stable, for now at least. However, the playmaker is reportedly ready to quit the club in 2019 ahead of a move to La Liga side Las Palmas, per Elgoldigital (h/t Diego Felix of AS).
Signing Milinkovic-Savic would help accelerate the regeneration of City's midfield. His is a game built on several attributes, per Nemanja Grbic of FourFourTwo: "He combines both power and technical ability to resist pressure from his opponents and dictates play from the middle of the park. His tactical intelligence and movement all over the field allow Lazio to use him in a way as a target man and as a safe harbour for their team to retain the ball."
Grbic also detailed how Milinkovic-Savic can play a free role in a variety of formations. He even compared the player to former Juventus ace and current Manchester United star Paul Pogba.
Milinkovic-Savic is a midfielder with the technical quality and eye for a pass to fit in well with the stylish, possession-based game Guardiola is preaching in Manchester.
City's efforts to scout one of Serie A's brightest young players shows Guardiola's commitment to further overhaul a squad he has already made younger at the back and up front.