In a lot of the ways, this is the worst part of the year for Fiorentina fans. While other teams dream of superstars and wunderkind, the Viola are gnawing their fingernails, wondering which of their key players are going to leave. This time, it seems that the wheel has stopped on Nikola Milenković.
In fairness, this isn’t exactly a surprise. The Mountain that Kicks penned a year-long extension last summer in an effort to ensure that Fiorentina didn’t lose him for nothing. That means he’s only got a year left and is probably on the way out, although neither he nor his agent Fali Ramadani have said a word about it, demonstrating some genuine class as Inter Milan Inter Milan look to replace Milan Škriniar, who may be on his way to London; if you believe the definitely non-partisan FC Inter News, they’ve already agreed to terms.
Milenković represents the perfect profile for the Nerazzuri: just 24 despite years of starting in Serie A, experience playing in a back four and a back three, a dominant aerial target, and a knack for scoring spectacular goals. He’s good on the ball, much quicker than his size would suggest, and versatile enough to fit any scheme. He does occasionally lose focus during games (as does literally every defender) but he’s probably the most complete centerback we’ve seen in Florence since Gonzalo Rodríguez.
The only downsides of the deal are that the purported fee is quite low at €15 million and that Big Nicky will stay in Italy. For the former, well, that’s what happens when a player’s only got a year left on his contract, and Milenković signed that extension to ensure that his current employers got something, so it almost feels like found money. For the latter, well, there’s not a striker in the world who’d relish facing him twice a year, but as long as he doesn’t end up at Juventus, it’ll be alright.
This will leave a 195 cm/6’5 hole in the middle of Fiorentina’s back line, though, and Daniele Pradè needs to move quickly to fix it. Igor’s growth into one of Italy’s better defenders has been a joy to watch and Lucas Martínez Quarta is excellent as well, but both played very different roles to the Serbian last year, although Igor might be capable of replacing him. Unless Vincenzo Italiano’s ready to run with two of Luca Ranieri, Jacob Rasmussen, Christian Dalle Mura, or Dimo Krastev as his backups, losing the Mountain will mean diving into the mercato.