Low-key Lazio quietly plan Serie A assault
With Edoardo Reja departing the club and the squad looking relatively weak, no one gave incoming coach Vladimir Petkovic a chance at success.
However, he had the Biancocelesti in the Scudetto race up until February when the team dipped in form.
Even with that poor ending to the campaign, they still finished seventh and claimed their sixth Coppa Italia. Now, they’re once again off the radar and are strengthening their squad without drawing much attention.
Despite many rumours stating that he’d leave for a bigger team, Hernanes has stuck around and it isn’t likely that he’ll get a move elsewhere – at least at the moment.
To add more depth in midfield, president Claudio Lotito signed Santos starlet Felipe Anderson for approximately €8 million. The 20-year-old made 108 appearances in all competitions for the Peixe, which is impressive given his age.
Anderson has also been capped three times at the U-20 level for Brazil and can play in an advanced role or as deep-laying midfielder, much like Hernanes. With Antonio Candreva sticking around for another year, the middle of the pitch is in good hands.
Up front, the aging Miroslav Klose will continue to be a threat, but for how much longer? At 35-years-old, the German international will decline as a footballer in the near future, and Lazio only have two other strikers in the squad.
Libor Kozak proved that he’s going to be a star with his eight goals in the Europa League last season, which led the competition despite the Biancocelesti’s quarter-final elimination. Lastly, there’s Sergio Floccari, who enjoyed a resurgence in 2012/13 with more playing time.
Thankfully for Laziali, it appears that they’ve added a valuable fourth forward.
Brayan Perea is an unknown outside of his native Colombia, but seems to have loads of upside.
Nicknamed “El Coco”, Perea is a Deportivo Cali product who earned his senior debut at 18.
He struggled that year, but bounced back in 2012 with five goals and an additional five this past season.
Ten goals in 54 appearances isn’t a good return for a striker, regardless of age, but Coco is a seconda punta, and a very talented one at that. He should only improve Lazio’s forward line.
At the 2013 South American Youth Championships, he was an instrumental part of Colombia’s tournament winning performance, constantly creating scoring chances for others.
At 1.88 metres, he’s a commanding forward with tremendous footwork and vision. The best part for Lazio is that he’s still 20, meaning he is yet to hit his full potential. If Perea can earn some minutes, he could become a first team regular in the Italian capital very quickly.
Lazio’s biggest loss this summer has been defender Modibo Diakite. The Frenchman was at the centre of transfer rumours throughout the 2012/13 campaign as his contract was due to expire in June.
He was subsequently let go and was captured by Sunderland. Lazio managed to sign a replacement in Diego Novaretti of Toluca.
The Argentine is the same height as Diakite and is two years his elder at 28-years of age. Novaretti is a tall, solid centre-back and more mobile than Diakite, a valuable attribute in certain situations such as counter attacks.
All in all, Lazio’s squad is prepared in terms of the size and quality. The gaps have been amply filled so the Aquile are suitably equipped to build on last season’s achievements.