The incompetence of Lazio’s hapless duo Claudio Lotito and Igli Tare left supporters of the Roman club squirming in their seats this week - and not for the first time. In a bizarre turn of events that most Laziali will still be struggling to comprehend, Davide Astori sensationally signed for rivals Roma on loan from Cagliari despite reportedly being only hours away from securing a move to the Biancocelesti.
Weeks of negotiations between the representatives of Lazio and Cagliari had seemingly almost closed a deal, but the sensational turnaround has instead left Tare and Lotito red-faced and under fire from the club’s faithful. After all, it is not exactly the first time they have failed to complete what seems a done deal, having failed at the last to complete moves for Keisuke Honda in 2012 and Burak Yilmaz in 2013.
Lazio legend Pino Wilson called it ‘an embarrassing situation for Lazio’, adding that: “if quality centre-backs do not arrive, this mercato will be considered a failure.” He is quite right. An ageing, error-prone defence was the most evident flaw of Lazio’s inconsistent side last season and at least two new defenders will be required if the club are to fulfil their ambition of getting back into Europe.
The fans are evidently not convinced that Tare is capable of delivering the players needed. Following the collapse of the Astori deal, the Albanian sporting director was confronted by angry supporters demanding answers. They didn’t get many, only the excuse that: “these things can change from one moment to the next.”
The other long-standing target for the club is Feyenoord’s Stefan De Vrij. However, after an impressive World Cup campaign the 22-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, who are willing to pay big money for the player. Lotito’s unwillingness to offer much more than €7m for the talented defender smacks of naivety and will likely see the Aquile outbid and once again rueing a missed opportunity.
Furthermore, the latest name to emerge as a transfer target is that of Sebastian De Maio, not exactly one to get the fans’ mouths watering. Although the additions so far have been encouraging – Dusan Basta, Marco Parolo, Filip Djordjevic and the full ownership of Antonio Candreva – they do not address the main flaw of the side, which is inarguably the defence.
Basta’s arrival will be crucial due to his versatility, as the Serbian will almost certainly be called upon during one of Abdoulay Konko’s inevitable spells on the treatment table. But otherwise, no defensive reinforcements have arrived, with the only change being Giuseppe Biava’s departure to Atalanta. The fans will demand top-level additions, particularly given Lotito’s continuous vows of signing a team of ‘champions’ and taking the club back into the Champions League.
Most worryingly, this week’s events not only saw the club’s negotiators fail in yet another transfer deal but provided proof that Lotito and Tare have failed to learn anything from their previous failures. Should they wish the club to return to Serie A’s higher echelons, the chequebook will need to be opened and quick decisions made.
Image source: Lalaziosiamonoi.it