West Ham United have a ‘strong interest’ in Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic but now face competition from European giants Juventus, according to Calciomercato.
23-year-old centre-back Milenkovic made 34 Serie A appearances for Fiorentina last season. He averaged three successful aerial duels, 3.6 clearances and 1.4 tackles per 90 minutes (via WhoScored).
West Ham currently have the likes of Angelo Ogbonna, Craig Dawson and Issa Diop available in the centre of defence. Fabian Balbuena, who played 14 league games last season, left at the end of his contract.
Team-mate Pol Lirola has described Milenkovic as a player of ‘extraordinary quality’ and declared him ready for ‘a great team’.
The report states that Juventus ‘could turn to’ the Serbian depending on developments with Merih Demiral.
Atalanta are pushing to sign Demiral, who wants to play more regularly, on loan with an option to buy. The two clubs have yet to reach ‘total agreement’ on figures but there could be a breakthrough ‘in the next few hours’ of talks.
Juventus would then be joining the Hammers and La Liga outfit Sevilla in the race for Milenkovic, who’s valued at €16million (£13.7million) by Fiorentina.
He’s into the final year of his contract and has ‘no intention’ of agreeing a renewal, with The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshare recently claiming any deal for the defender would be ‘relatively straightforward’ when discussing interest from Tottenham.
This could change the landscape. While Milenkovic may not play immediately for Juventus – as he probably would for West Ham – he could be sold on the idea of succeeding Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci as Mathijs de Ligt’s long-term partner.
The Old Lady boast a historic list of legendary defenders down the years, and that may seriously appeal to a youngster already plying his trade in Serie A.
Nonetheless, the Hammers do very much need to recruit a centre-back in the four remaining weeks of the window. Having Winston Reid, a player who’s well past his best, as fourth-choice simply isn’t good enough.
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