The transfer window is at it’s midway point and Lazio fans have seen their club banded about with some of Europe’s biggest names in the papers. Sadly for biancoceleste fans the talk has revolved around the exit of star left back Aleksander Kolarov, long gone are the glory days under Sergio Cragnotti. Lazio were top of Serie A for the first 3 weeks of Serie A last season but following the exclusion of Cristian Ledesma and Goran Pandev the biancocelesti went into free fall.
Fans this season will look to Croatian coach Edy Reja to build upon their survival last season. Reja has suggested that he will take Lazio into European competition next season, a bold claim considering their past few season’s performances. They were involved in Europa League football last season, but only because of their Italian Cup win against Sampdoria.
Problems last season
Under Reja Lazio played a 3-4-1-2/3-4-2-1, Dias and Radu proved to be a terrific centre back pairing and Kolarov together with Lichsteiner terrorised sides with their attacks down the wings. Up front a combination of Zarate, Rocchi, Cruz and Floccari were able to sustain some form of attacking threat over the course of the season despite the problems in midfield.
The link between attack and defence has been Lazio’s problem over the past campaign, the club possess few quality midfielders capable of opening up opposition defences. Reja has stated that the priorities for the transfer window are to find a replacement for Kolarov, who is all but gone, and to buy in some decent midfielders. Lazio will also need a striker, possibly a season-long loan, after Rocchi picked up a long term injury in a friendly yesterday.
Starting from the back, the replacement for Kolarov appears to be Luca Antonelli. This transfer has been all but completed it would seem, as soon as Kolarov departs the Parma man will step into his place. It will be interesting to see, should Antonelli sign for Lazio, if he will be able to adapt to the wing back role he is likely to be placed in.
Next up on the shopping list will be a holding midfielder, the responsibilities were shared last season between Brocchi, Baronio and to a much lesser extent Hitzlsperger. This simply will not do for a side who expect to be pushing for a top half finish. Hitzlsperger has moved to West Ham after a pointless 6 month spell in Rome, Baronio has been released after spending 14 years playing second fiddle to a multitude of midfielders and Brocchi is now 34 years of age. However there have been few signs of this type of signing over the past month, with the only concrete signing made so far is the Australian midfielder Mark Bresciano.
Hernanes of Sao Paolo has been linked with the club and both clubs have been discussing terms, varied prices have been banded about between €13m and €30m. It is difficult to see how he has fallen below the radar if he is truly valued at such a high price, at the same time he is held in very high esteem by a number of good sources in South America. He would replace Rocchi very well.
Despite the many promises that signings are in the bag and players are on their way, the roman club have had a terrible window thus far. The majority of the transfers which appear to have been done have fallen through at the last minute. The latest example is the season long loan of Robert Aquafresca from Genoa, the striker has snubbed Lazio favouring a move back to Cagliari instead.
Lotito’s foul treatment of Ledesma and Pandev last August appears to have done irrevocable damage to the already suspect reputation of the club. Players do not want to be treated with such contempt, certainly not after having given good performances consistently. The Ledesma saga is still going on now, the player was retreived from his confinement by Reja in February and was instrumental in helping secure Lazio’s Serie A status. Now the club will not meet his wage demands, they are offering €1 million but the Brazilian wants double that.
Another problem for Lazio is the new ruling put in place by the Figc following Italy’s disastrous World Cup campaign. The Italian FA have restricted clubs to signing just one non-EU player per season (down from 2 players), this has put a number of transfers on hold. Pablo Pintos, Alvaro Gonzalez and Hernanes are three players who have been linked heavily with the club but are yet to commit. The ruling is also causing Lazio to mistreat some of it’s current non-EU players, Christian Manfredini for one, in an attempt to convince them to leave. This is because they can sign extra non-EU players if they are replacing players moving abroad.
While there is still a month left in the transfer window I am very concerned with the reputation that the club now holds and how this will affect player’s decision making with regards to signing for Lazio. There are still many items to cross off the shopping list before the squad can be considered complete and the first XI is still an unknown. As it stands then Lazio require 1 Left back/Left wing back, 1 Defensive midfielder, 1 trequartista, 2 strikers (one on loan preferably).