Despite Lazio climbing up the table under Maurizio Sarri, the Serie A side have to deal with a big elephant in the room on a daily basis, and that’s the future of Sergej Milinković-Savić.

The player’s contract with the Italian club runs out in 2024, which is why teams like Arsenal were already intrigued at the prospect of signing him in the summer.

The Serbian midfielder, at the time, decided to turn down the Gunners’ advances, preferring to stay put, although he couldn’t predict the meteoric rise the London side would undergo this season.

Arsenal are now top of the table, despite losing to Everton this weekend, and managed to remain five points clear of Manchester City after their north London rivals beat Pep Guardiola and co. on Sunday.

Either way, Corriere dello Sport have an article looking at what the future holds for Milinković-Savić, and one thing he wants for certain is to play in the Champions League.

However, regardless of whether he helps Lazio qualify for the tournament, he will leave, as this is now an ‘irreversible decision’ made by the player.

It’s solely down to the ‘desire to try a new experience’, and while a new meeting took place between his agent, Mateja Kezman, and the Italian club, ‘a turning point has not been reached on the renewal’, despite Claudio Lotito trying to get something going.

The representative made it clear Milinković-Savić wants a new club, but also wants to do so ‘without leaving Lazio on a free transfer’ to ensure his side are remunerated by an exit.

This means a sale in the summer, and it is therefore ‘necessary to establish an exit strategy’ with all parties.

Regarding where he goes next, Arsenal ‘remain the favourite destination’ for the Serbia international, as they are the club who have ‘taken the most convinced steps’ to sign him, and because they finally have ‘the player’s favour after the hesitation in June’, when he wasn’t fully convinced by what the Gunners could offer.

No bids arrived for him in January, as the London side focused their efforts (in vain) in trying to get Moises Caicedo from Brighton, but this summer should be different.

Milinković-Savić would rather not leave on a free in 2024, as he ‘doesn’t want to cause such heaving damage to Lazio’, but it will be necessary for his side to ‘set a fair price’.

What that could be isn’t said, but it’s clear that the €100m Lotito wanted in the past are now a ‘distant memory’, and the hopes of receiving offers of €50-60m in the summer ‘are a mirage’.

Therefore, we need to see what Lazio are willing to accept for him, which will be up to the club’s president, who could also force him to stay an extra year and ‘run the risk of losing him for free’.