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Vanja Milinkovic-Savic: The one goalkeeper who is running TO Man Utd

No matter what happens with David de Gea this summer, Manchester United will be welcoming a new goalkeeper.

FK Vojvodina have announced Vanja Milinkovic-Savic will be joining United's first team next season as Louis van Gaal's third-choice keeper.

The 18 year-old, snapped up for €1.85 million, signed a five-year contract with United last year before being loaned back to Vojvodina for this season.

Boris Nagy, Vojvodina's goalkeeper coach, confirmed Milinkovic-Savic will be leaving for United at the end of this season, with the Premier League giants delighted with his progress.

"We've maintained a close cooperation through constant contact. A video of every match for Vojvodina is sent to England, with my assessment of how he (Milinkovic-Savic) played, what worked well and what can be improved.

"Therefore, the experts at United know everything about him, to the smallest detail."

Milinkovic-Savic adds: "In England, I will operate under the instructions of Frans Hoek, the Manchester United goalkeeper coach. It will not be a problem. I've talked to him on several occasions. He's direct and honest. He says things to your face about what is needed. I love that attitude."

By his own admission, Milinkovic-Savic was always destined for a sporting career. His father, Nikola, enjoyed a successful career as a midfielder, playing in Serbia, Spain, Portugal and Austria. Mum, Milani, played basketball for Yugoslavia.

"Mum has helped me about preparing for the sporting world, especially that of Manchester United. She knows about expectations, having played internationally."

Younger sister, Jana, is a junior basketballer, while brother Sergei, 20, is now playing for Genk in Belgium and is a Serbia U21 international.

"He chose midfield," says Vanja. "We grew up with a ball, It's what every kid should have - not a computer or phone.

"We will always be together. Maybe in two or three year's time at United. My Mum and my sister are joining him in Belgium so that everything is under control."

Milinkovic-Savic admits he began his football as a striker - with some success.

"I played for three years in Austria, where Dad was playing. Yes, I played centre-forward. I was pretty good! The best among my peers.

"But in 2006, we returned to Serbia and after a year I realised something... I didn't like running! So I stayed in goal."

Though it left Mum unhappy, the choice was justified with last year's offer from United.

"But who knows?" laughs Vanja with Sport, "maybe if I'd stuck at it, I'd be joining Real Madrid or Barcelona!"

While Nagy has been working with Milinkovic-Savic this season, he credits junior coach Aleksandar Kocic for launching his goalkeeping career.

"When I made the decision to become a goalkeeper, I had his (Kocic) support. He was a former goalkeeper of Vojvodina and the national team. When he told me I could make it, I knew I'd made the right decision."

United coaching staff have twice been to Serbia to meet with Nagy and to see Milinkovic-Savic in action.

And Nagy admits there's also been some contact from one of the game's genuine legends eager to learn more about their young prospect.

"Yes, we met with (Sir Alex) Ferguson," he revealed.

"He was very interested in how Vanja was progressing. It's something different when you have someone of Ferguson's stature asking about one of your players."

Milinkovic-Savic is under no illusions about what is required of him this looming preseason.

"It will all come down to me. I know that. I am relaxed about it. I am ready for the hard work ahead."

Milinkovic-Savic continued: "Yes, things have happened quickly for me. I haven't really planned it.

"What was important this season was to be the first team goalkeeper of Vojvodina. That was nice. It was a dream for me.

"Now I want to play for United. In the summer I go there to join them and to fight the competition to get into the team.

"If God chooses, I will succeed."

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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