It’s been awhile since a Partizan player has made it through the Fiorentina ranks. Indeed, the last one was Matija Nastasic, last seen joining Manchester City (and thence Schalke 04) in exchange for fellow ex-Cerno-Beli defender Stefan Savic. If Corvino has anything to do with it, though, we may see the resumption of service between Belgrade and Florence this summer with the purchase of a pair of highly-rated young stars.
The first is defender Nikola Milenkovic. A towering (6’5 or 195 cm) centerback, he’s already being hailed as the new Nemanja Vidic due to his aerial prowess and no-nonsense approach to defending. He’s quicker across the ground than you’d expect and reads the game well for a 19-year-old, too. He’s booked more often than you’d like—5 in 18 matches this season—but it also demonstrates his commitment to the cause. You can’t quite say that he’s a real under-the-radar hipster pick, either, as Serbia boss Slavoljub Muslin handed him a debut cap last year.
Not surprisingly, young Milenkovic has garnered considerable interest around Europe, with Newcastle, Ajax, and Anderlecht all expressing interest in the past year. After breaking into the first XI at the end of last season, he’s firmly established himself as the starter in 2nd-placed Partizan’s defense, which has allowed just 14 goals in 23 matches. Gianluca di Marzio reports that Fiorentina are preparing a €5 million offer which will also pay between 15 and 20 percent of all future proceeds of his sales to the Belgrade club.
Dusan Vlahovic is a 17-year-old striker who’s also with Partizan. While he’s not quite as finished a product as his defensive teammate, he’s a strapping young hitman who’s the youngest player ever fielded by the Black and Whites, making his debut shortly after his 16th birthday, and scoring his maiden goal not long after. While he’s still more of an impact sub rather than a regular starter—6 of his 7 league appearances have been from the bench—he’s a true aerial threat in the box (especially impressive given his tender years), the sort of classic number 9 who receives monickers like “the next Ibrahimovic.” There’s no denying that he’s got a lot of growing to do, but again, he’s only 17 and should have a long and productive future ahead of him.
A veteran of the Serbian international youth setup, he’s already got 3 caps and a goal for the U19s. To explain his promise in another way, no lesser clubs than Manchester City and Arsenal nearly scooped him up last summer. Again per di Marzio, he’d cost Fiorentina just €1.5 million this June, although he’d stay with Partizan for an extra year before making the switch to Florence.
While neither of this teenage duo would be expected to make an immediate impact at Fiorentina, it’s good to see that Corvino is back to his old tricks of snapping up excellent young Balkan players. This could also announce the beginning of a rebuilding project for the Viola, though, as these are the sorts of players you allow to percolate through the Primavera and the lower leagues for a year or three before reaping dividends.