The most enticing thing about Lazio's signing of Valon Berisha from RB Salzburg may not be the goals or the creativity, but the price.
At a reported €8m, he represents extremely good value, with Berisha himself stating that both Newcastle United in the Premier League and Sampdoria were interested. It is one of many coups sporting director Igli Tare has pulled off during Simone Inzaghi’s tenure, which include Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
All rousing successes, there is continued expectation to repeat those feats in this window. Especially as Inter, who pipped them to Champions League football on the final day last season, have strengthened considerably with the signings of Radja Nainggolan, Lautaro Martinez and Stefan de Vrij. Pressure indeed, but 25-year-old Berisha has done a lot over the past year to convince others of his talent.
A dynamic player, he can do a bit of everything, scoring 13 goals and notching 11 assists last season in all competitions. He likes to come deep to pick up the ball and drive with it at defenders with his dribbling ability his biggest asset. You are equally likely to see him pop up in the box at the last moment to try and score.
He's a decent long-range passer, and though not the most notable part of his game, his work rate means he wins his fair share of tackles.
The biggest proof of his talent came in the Europa League last season. He scored twice against Borussia Dortmund to win the tie unexpectedly, then wreaked havoc with Lazio, scoring a penalty in the first leg and creating a goal in the second. If he wanted to catch the eye of the Aquile’s scouting team, it worked.
Internationally he made history scoring Kosovo’s first official goal, racking up 20 caps for Norway before switching allegiances once his home nation was given FIFA recognition.
Although he played the majority of games for Salzburg at left midfield, he can play in the centre and will likely also excel pushed further forward. As long as he is on the ball, he is a danger. That versatility means we’re not yet sure where he plays in Inzaghi's side and who he replaces.
Given his attacking instincts, he is unlikely to poach Senad Lulic’s spot at wing-back, especially with Jordan Lukaku and newly-signed Riza Durmisi for depth in that position.
Of the two more attack-minded spots in the Biancocelesti midfield, the one occupied by Milinkovic-Savic doesn’t seem up for debate. That is unless his days in Rome are numbered, with speculation linking him with Real Madrid and Manchester United, but his €150m price-tag may see him stay at least another year.
The other belongs to vice-captain Marco Parolo. Despite being 33 years old, he played a substantial role in Lazio’s last campaign, featuring in 43 games.
The move for Berisha more likely means the end for Brazilian Felipe Anderson, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League. His stock has taken a hit, but Lazio should recoup far in excess of that which they paid for Berisha.
Just like they did after losing Lucas Biglia and Keita Balde Diao last season to Milan and Monaco respectively, they may win the trade war, replacing key players with under-rated talent. Fans have every reason to believe Berisha is another diamond in the rough.
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