Not satisfied with the capture of Vitor Hugo from Palmeiras, Fiorentina have signed another centerback already. This time, it’s 19-year-old Serb Nikola Milenković of Partizan Belgrade, who’ll link up with his new teammates at the usual Viola preseason camp at Moena, pending a medical in the next week or so.
If we’re being completely honest, this isn’t anything approaching a surprise. As you may recall, reports that the €5.1 million deal was done and dusted leaked out back in March. We were pretty thrilled back then, and we remain pretty thrilled now, as the comparisons Milenković has drawn to Nemanja Vidić don’t actually look that far-fetched. It’s not just us saying that, either; the Gazzetta dello Sport considers him one of the 30 best players under the age of 20 in Europe, ranking him at 27 (and hey, look, Federico Chiesa is also in there).
Standing at a towering 6’5 (195 cm) and built along the lines of 200-year-old oak tree, it’s not exactly a shock that young Nikola is a terror in the air. He’s also quite good in the tackle and reads the game a lot better than you’d expect from a teenager. In fact, he’s been a regular starter at Partizan Belgrade all year long; in his 2-year senior career with the Crno-Beli has seen him amass 44 appearances, in which he’s tallied 4 goals, an assist, 7 bookings, and a sending off, including 32 starts for the league’s stingiest defense and even a day spent as the captain.
Despite his obvious promise, though, it’s a big jump for a teenager going from the Serbian SuperLiga to Serie A. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Milenković spend a year on loan in the lower reaches of Serie A or the promotion seekers of Serie B as he adjusts to life in a new country. He is, though, one of the most promising young defenders in the world, and it’s not crazy to say that he could follow in the footsteps of such luminaries as Stevan Jovetić, Adem Ljajić, and Matija Nastasić, who all moved from promise at Partizan to stardom at Fiorentina.