Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has played down comparisons between his game and that of World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane, saying: “I see myself as more of a Yaya Toure.”
Milinkovic-Savic scored 12 goals in 35 appearances for Lazio as the Biancoceleste finished fifth in Serie A in 2017-18, and his performances drew comparisons to former France, Juventus and Real Madrid star Zidane.
The 23-year-old is now with the Serbia squad, preparing for their World Cup Group E opener against Costa Rica, and says he is relishing the pressure of stepping onto the game’s biggest stage.
“I think that I’m in a really good place right now,” he told FIFA.com.
“Pressure? I love pressure, it gets the best out of me. That’s when I feel the best and give maximum on the pitch – those who know me can confirm that.
“I am absolutely ready for Russia. If I need to earn the trust of the head coach [Mladen] Krstajic, I will do my best to justify that.”
Born in Lleida in Catalonia, Milinkovic-Savic could have opted to play for Spain but insists “my country is Serbia and I am always proud to say that”.
He is likely to feature in a line of three attacking players behind lone striker Aleksandar Mitrovic in Serbia’s starting line-up and, to those comparing his role to that played by Zidane for France, he said: “That comparison can only flatter me.”
Milinkovic-Savic added: “However, I see myself more as a Yaya Toure. As for idols, I can say I have always watched and looked up to Nemanja Matic as well.
“I can see myself as a future playmaker. That is how I like to play most, and my last season in Lazio has proved it.”