Lazio Club Focus: Familiar failings strike deadline day
Lazio’s mercato activity limped to a familiar finish on Monday evening as president Claudio Lotito failed to sign a new striker despite lengthy negotiations with Galatasaray over the sale of Burak Yilmaz.
To make matters worse, laziali have had to deal not only with the failure to find a ‘vice-Klose’, but also the decision to release two of the remaining forwards, as Libor Kozak headed to Aston Villa in a €9 million deal and young Antonio Rozzi left on a season-long loan deal to Real Madrid Castilla.
This was the latest blow of a season that has begun disappointingly on the pitch after the Biancoceleste slumped to a 4-1 defeat to champions Juventus in Turin on Saturday evening, only a fortnight after being humbled 4-0 by the same opposition in the Supercoppa.
The most worrying aspect of the performance was the conceding of another four goals, and therefore the failure to improve on the previous outing despite a different central defensive partnership in Diego Novaretti and Lorik Cana. The second goal scored by Arturo Vidal was a result of Hernanes’ ill-discipline defensively as he failed to track the Chilean’s run, and the later strike by Mirko Vucinic was painfully easy as the former Roma forward latched onto Leonardo Bonucci’s excellent pass, seeing off the challenge of Novaretti far too easily in the process.
Hernanes’ performance was another cause for concern as, despite the fact that his shot spilled by Gigi Buffon created Klose’s goal, the Brazilian never managed to impose his influence on the game and was sent off in the second half for an unnecessary handball that completely ended any chance of a Lazio resurgence.
The derby matches often make or break a season and, although these are still early days in the domestic campaign, the importance of winning a fixture as heated as this at such an early point in the season cannot be underestimated.
Vladimir Petkovic will now have his work cut out trying to get the best out of his depleted squad, with another Europa League adventure set to begin later this month and only two experienced strikers left in the squad, and Miroslav Klose and Sergio Floccari’s combined age comes to an impressive 66. The only other remaining options up front are the so far unimpressive Emiliano Alfaro, and the completely untested Keita Balde Diao and Brayan Perea.
The rest of the mercato activity was conducted much earlier in the summer. The most accomplished signing was Argentina international midfielder Lucas Biglia, who arrived from Belgian champions Anderlecht for an undisclosed fee. Other completed deals of note include the long-awaited arrival of Brazilian playmaker Felipe Anderson, Albanian international goalkeeper Etrit Berisha and towering centre back Diego Novaretti. Rounding up the transfer activity for the summer are Vinicius, Perea and Josip Elez, all relative unknowns who are likely to be on the fringes of the squad.
Despite an underwhelming and frequently frustrating mercato, the small solace that Lazio fans can have is that the stars of last season have remained in Rome. Rumours surrounding the future of Hernanes persisted throughout the summer, including reported interest from PSG, but an offer never arrived. Federico Marchetti was attracting some interest from Arsenal and Liverpool, and Antonio Candreva’s name was also often seen in the transfer rumour columns.
With these players remaining at the club, the core squad is still very strong and should easily be in contention for a top-five Serie A finish. However the problem for the last few seasons has always been a lack of depth, particularly up front, and the failure to land Yilmaz could prove to be seriously detrimental to the club’s ambitions for the year ahead.
Having said that, a derby win in week four could provide the impetus for a good run of form leading in to the winter break, but there will now be even more pressure on Miroslav Klose to provide the goals.