Igli Tare has had plenty of detractors in his time as sporting director of Lazio since taking over the role in 2009. From his inability to sign a proven striker last summer, to selling talisman Hernanes to league rivals Inter at the start of the year, to losing out to bitter rivals Roma for the signature of Davide Astori, the Albanian has become a figure of criticism and abuse from his own fans to the extent that he was receiving death threats this past July.
It was a sad period for the former Albanian captain who had become a fan favorite at the Olimpico during his latter playing days, being subjected to such derogatory abuse from the fans that used to cheer his name.
Fortunately for both club and director, Tare seems to be growing in the role and learning from his experiences and now seems far less out of his depth – which is understandable given that he started the job straight after he hung up his boots.
In hindsight, his summer captures of Stefan De Vrij, Marco Parolo and Filip Djordjevic have all turned out to be inspired signings for the Biancocelesti. Serbian right-back Dusan Basta has yet to show his Udinese form, but the signs are there that he too is ready to explode once he gains full fitness.
In June 2013, Tare splashed out €8 million on Felipe Anderson, a youngster billed as one of Brazil’s hottest young talents in years. At Santos he had established himself as an explosive attacking midfielder, who had the ability to glide past opponents with ease.
The deal was regarded as complicated, to say the least. Anderson had been part owned by a third party named Doyen Sports, and the company’s irrational approach meant that negotiations went on for more than six months before an agreement was finally reached. It says a lot about Tare’s faith in Anderson that he persisted with negotiations when many would have backed out much earlier.
“It will remain in history as the most paradoxical and shocking negotiations I have ever been a part of. These third party owners changed their minds continually. When we had everything decided, they would start from scratch two hours later”, remarked Tare regarding the Anderson deal.
Fast forward a year from signing with Lazio and Anderson was condemned as another Tare flop after a dreadful debut season in the Serie A. Eighteen appearances in all competitions, mostly as a substitute, garnering a meagre goal and a single assist. His reported attitude problems meant that the youngster was being linked with a move away after only one season in the capital.
Tare, however, was not about to throw in the towel on the talented youngster. He was adamant that Anderson had the talent to become a star in this league, and was prepared to take another risk on his project.
“Lazio always protected him and more than ever Tare, who defended him even in the most difficult moments. There were many clubs who wanted him on loan if Lazio had opened up to this possibility, but Tare never even considered it”, Anderson’s agent, Stefano Castagna, confirmed.
Let’s advance to the present day, and Tare’s belief in Anderson is starting to be repaid. It took longer than expected, but Anderson’s recent performances have labelled him as a possible breakout star of 2015. Three goals and two assists in his past three Serie A matches have helped consolidate Lazio’s fine season, as they enter the festive period in an impressive third place, and holding onto the final Champions League qualifying slot.
His last performance in particular against Inter, really announced himself as one to watch. Two stunning goals – the second, an amazing solo effort where he picked up the ball just inside the opposition half and set himself on an amazing slalom run, beating two defenders before rifling home past the hapless Samir Handanovic – would’ve made the great Diego Maradona proud.
Another stick that Tare cynics would use to beat the director with was his inability to recruit a replacement for Hernanes either in the January transfer window or this past summer. Tare knew however, that the club had Hernanes’ heir at the club already and that he had the potential to be better than their former talisman.
Tare showed a lot of temerity, refusing to bow to the fans pressure to go out and potentially waste more of the clubs money, preferring to ‘promote’ from the club internally. Another piece of evidence that Tare is turning into one of the shrewder directors in the country.
It’s true that Anderson owes a lot of his short career to Tare. The Albanian’s unwavering confidence in the youngster has encouraged him to buck up and start to realize his undoubted potential.
Tare also has Anderson to thank, as his performances have done their part in restoring the director’s shaky reputation as he looks to consolidate his fine recent track-record of top-notch value signings.