By the year 2023, we have reached a stage where a fullback must have incredible attacking skills down the wings if he wants to thrive in football. Tasked with going up the pitch, stretching the field as wide as possible, and creating overloads are now part and parcel of a fullback’s game. And one of the many products of this revolution is AZ Alkmaar’s Milos Kerkez.
Born in Serbia & Montenegro, Kerkez’s footballing journey has taken him to multiple countries where he has witnessed highs and lows. However, at AZ Alkmaar, he finally has found a club that has given him a stable environment to grow and at the same time exhibit his talent.
In just his first season, Kerkez has taken to the team like a duck to water and has become an integral part. While he may still not be on the radar of a big club, Kerkez has shown this season that he is one to watch out for. So, who is Milos Kerkez, and how good is he?
Playing career so far
Milos Kerkez was born on November 7, 2003, in the city of Vrbas, in Vojvodina, Serbia’s northernmost province. As a die-hard fan of the game, Kerkez’s parents enrolled him into the local club FK Vrbas youth academy.
He would stay at the club till 2014 before he would travel 500 kilometres to the Austrian capital of Vienna to join Rapid Wien. His time at the club provided him with a stable environment where he would consistently get better for the next few years.
However, Kerkez was getting restless, a characteristic that would play an integral part in some key moments. The player would then make a decision that would impact not only his club career but also his international career.
In 2020, Kerkez changed his country again, joining Hungarian side Hodmezovasarhely in 2019 but only stayed for a year before joining FC Gyor. Here, he made 16 appearances, which was enough proof for AC Milan to sign him in 2021. Kerkez initially had no inclination to leave Hungary, but a call from Milan legend Paolo Maldini changed that, and his family decided to migrate to Italy.
While he didn’t get any senior team appearances, he regularly trained with the first team. Working with Theo Hernandez helped him improve his game immensely, especially in the attacking department.
The restlessness, however, appeared once again, and just after half of the season, Kerkez wanted regular senior-team appearances. Initially, Milan wanted him to go on a loan, but Kerkez was adamant about a permanent move and thus joined AZ Alkmaar.
The most promising U20 footballers according to CIES:
1. 🇪🇸 Gavi
2. 🏴 Bellingham
3. 🇧🇷 Marcos Leonardo
4. 🇵🇹 Antonio Silva
5. 🇧🇷 Vitor Roque
6. 🇪🇸 Alejandro Balde
7. 🇭🇺 Milos Kerkez
8. 🇧🇷 Endrick
9. 🇧🇷 Ângelo Gabriel
10. 🇩🇪 Youssoufa Moukoko
Young ballers. 😍 pic.twitter.com/dOqsc9drIo
— Pro Future Stars (@ProFutureStars1) April 26, 2023
Milos Kerkez stats
When he joined AZ Alkmaar, he was initially sent to the reserves side, where he would spend the second half of the 2021-22 season. And when the 2022-23 season started, Kerkez was given the promotion to the senior team by manager Pascal Jansen.
And Kerkez has repaid the faith put on him. The fullback has made a total of 47 appearances scoring five goals and providing eight assists. It is a fantastic return for a player playing his first senior-team season.
Stats from fbref show that he consistently ranks among the top ten percentile of fullbacks in attacking metrics such as touches in the penalty area, goals, and successful take-ons, among others.
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Milos Kerkez scout report
His one year at AC Milan has helped him improve his attacking phase of the game. Kerke has admitted that Theo Hernandez and Paolo Maldini influenced his game considerably. Kerkez has also said that he has also been influenced by Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies. In an interview with Scoutedftbl, Kerkez said, “I still watch Théo to learn. I also watch Alphonso Davies sometimes. When Jordi Alba was in his prime, I liked him a lot, too. He was great.”
This explains his playing style. Kerkez has been afforded the luxury of going up the pitch, which allows him to express himself freely. As a result, Kerkez is brilliant at almost every attacking metric, be it dribbling, technique, ball control, and creativity. In addition, Kerkez is also blessed with immense pace and acceleration, allowing them to go up and down the pitch rapidly.
On top of that, Kerkez is also brilliant at shooting something rare, even for the attacking fullbacks. This makes him a menace to the opposition, who know he can both create goals.
Milos Kerkez (19) 🆚 Theo Hernández (25) stats this season as Left Backs.
Yesterday after scoring against Lazio, Milos did the celebration of his idol Theo who did the same celebration in 2020 also against Lazio.
AZ Alkmaar signed Kerkez from AC Milan for just €2M. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/SuIGZg4FSD
— Pro Future Stars (@ProFutureStars1) March 8, 2023
What makes him special
There is no doubt that Milos Kerkez is a particular player. However, his greatest asset lies not in his footballing skills but in his mental toughness. Kerkez has always been brave, whether on or off the football field. Before he hit the age of 128, he changed his countries three times which could have been detrimental to his career.
However, Kerkez had immense faith and confidence in his talent, a key reason for his incredible rise. While improving physical skills is easy if the player has talent, mental toughness is hard to find and grow, making Kerkez a rare player.
Milos Kerkez transfer news
Milos Kerkez has had short-term spells at all his three previous clubs, so it will not be a surprise if he leaves AZ Alkmaar come the summer transfer window. In addition, Kerkez’s father has expressed his interest in taking his son’s talents to England.
This has alerted the Premier League clubs, with Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers among the frontrunners to sign the player. However, Wolves appear to have the upper hand given they are eight points clear of the relegation zone while Leeds are surviving it by the skin of their teeth.
However, Milos Kerkez is bound to fulfil his massive talent wherever he goes.