Born in the French town of Antibes, David Milinković started his playing days in the youth side of AS Cannes before switching to Red Star Belgrade’s Academy in December 2011 following his family’s relocation to Serbia.
Although he never progressed to the first-team set-up at the Rajko Mitić Stadium, his promising talent did see him secure a switch to FK Rad, who in turn loaned him out to Serbian third-tier side FK BASK during the winter break of the 2012/13 campaign. It was at BASK where he began to shine, with his performances in the second half of the season earning him a permanent move in the summer of 2013.
Milinković’s continued progression and impressive contribution in a black and white shirt saw him attract the attention of seven foreign clubs including Cagliari, AS Roma and Frosinone before eventually joining Roma in April 2014 after impressing whilst on trial two months earlier.
However, first-team opportunities at Stadio Olimpico proved hard to come by which led to him moving to Serie B side Ternana Calcio, making three appearances before switching to another Serie B outfit in Salernitana in the summer of 2015. He made nine appearances for the Salerno-based outfit in the first half of 2015/16 campaign, earning a switch to Genoa in January 2016.
He was immediately loaned out to Virtus Lanciano in Serie B following his move to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, going on to make seven appearances in the second half of the season, before embarking on another temporary switch ahead of the 2016/17 season, this time joining Messina for the full season. The winger excelled in the third tier of Italian football, registering seven goals and nine assists in 39 appearances in all competitions.
Milinković’s next loan adventure saw him arrive on British shores when he agreed to a season-long switch to Hearts in September 2017. The 24-year-old’s endeavour and attacking play quickly endeared him to fans of the Edinburgh outfit, who witnessed him contributing six goals and five assists in 26 appearances as the Jam Tarts finished sixth in the SPL.
Two of those goals saw Milinković grab the headlines in December 2017 as Hearts ended Celtic’s record-breaking 69-game unbeaten run in emphatic style with a 4-0 home win over Brendan Rodgers’ title-winning side. With the scoreline already at 2-0, the Serb capitalised on some poor defending to grab a third goal three minutes into the second half before adding a 76th-minute penalty to put the finishing touches on a remarkable afternoon. His contribution that day also saw him included in FIFA 18’s Team of the Week – alongside none other than Neymar, Luis Suarez and David Silva.
Described as being ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest of his team-mates last season by sections of the Scottish media, no Hearts player recorded more assists than Milinković’s five whilst he was also in the top ten in the Ladbrokes Premiership for assists per 90 minutes, ahead of the likes of Ryan Christie, Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic.
Perhaps most impressively, he was third in the entire SPL for key passes (passes which lead to a shot) per 90 minutes and he was the only Hearts player in the top 30 in the league for crosses per 90 minutes and top 20 for dribbles per 90 minutes.
His impressive contribution in maroon had seen him linked with a permanent move to Tynecastle this summer whilst also being linked with moves to Championship sides Reading and Ipswich Town, although the talented wideman will be now be wearing black and amber as his looks to showcase his skills in English football after putting pen-to-paper on a three-year deal with the Tigers.