Thursday August 2 2018
Lazio under the radar

They may not have made many flashy signings, but the Biancocelesti are quietly having a good summer, writes Billy Wilkinson.

Lazio were meant to be resemble something along the lines of a supermarket this summer as opposed to a club getting stronger. But as per usual with the Biancocelesti, savvy transfers and hidden gems are proving to be the backbone of their summer business.

The departure of Sergej Milinković-Savić seemed like a foregone conclusion for most of the season, with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and rivals Juventus fighting for his signature. However, the Biancolesti kept a hold of the midfielder and now the Serb can reach even bigger heights than last season, and perhaps go for more money in the future.

Other less flashy yet key players Lazio have managed to keep a hold of include last season’s top scorer Ciro Immobile, who may have been kept due to a stroke of luck due to Milan’s financial situation. Also young goalkeeping stalwart Thomas Strakosha has flown under the radar of the big clubs through Europe and will continue to be one of the best ‘keepers in Serie A.

As always, Claudio Lotito has tried to look for value in this crazy transfer market. His bargain driving skills became even more valuable after Lazio lost out on Champions League football last season and judging by their business, those skills have been in practice.

The shrewd signing of Fiorentina’s Milan Badelj on a free might prove to be a pillar of Lazio’s success over the next couple of the years. Inzaghi’s midfield has desperately lacked a go-to passer since Lucas Biglia’s departure and the Croatian provides stability and an impressive passing ability all on a free transfer.

Inzaghi’s high octane style could appear chaotic and uncontrolled at point, case in point with the final game of last season against Inter. When the games are a bit unhinged or Lazio are losing control, Badelj will be there to calm it down and recycle the ball.

The €10m price tag of Francesco Acerbi may seem steep but in this market it’s what you have to pay for proven, veteran Serie A quality. The departure of Stefan de Vrij may yet have shaken Lazio for the next couple of seasons but Acerbi will be able to come in right away and bring authority to a shaky backline.

Arguably Lazio’s most interesting summer purchase is that of Joaquin Correa from Sevilla. It was only two seasons ago during 2015-16 that the Argentina was then 20-21 year was catching attention as a fearless winger that could take anyone on.

Two seasons at Sevilla have proved to be unsuccessful for the former Sampdoria man with just five league goals and one assists during his two seasons in Sevilla.

However, Lotito is doing what he always does: betting on a player’s potential even if their previous move hasn’t worked out. The €15m fee seems steep but anyone who denies that Correa could well exceed that has a short memory indeed.

Due to Lazio’s financial situation, most of the team has to be made up of undervalued hidden gems or players on the cheap that were developed by the club. Well Riza Dirmisi appears to be just that. A €6.5m signing from Real Betis, the Dane will take over from club legend Senad Lulic at the left wingback spot when the time is ready.

Last season, the Aquile were one of the most cohesive teams, often trotting out the same XI in which the players seem on an almost telepathic wavelength. Now factor in they kept their two best players, which everybody expected them to lose, coupled with some solid signings with potential to be exceptional signings, and Lazio could well be finishing top four.

There are questions marks over Roma’s business this summer and we have no clue how good Napoli are actually going to be under Carlo Ancelotti. The Biancocelesti surprised everyone with their performances last year, but if they keep the same level and there’s a drop off or two, Champions League football could be theirs.

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Have your say...
No dan juve have gotten stronger and so has the competition. The end
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 4:43pm
It promises to be a terrific season: the most competitive that we have seen in a long time. Despite signing Ronaldo, I believe that Juve will be a little weaker this season, with Buffon leaving, and Bonucci coming back. Lazio, Milan, Atalanta, Fiorentina, Torino, Sampdoria... could be ready to pounce should one of last seasons top 4 slip up. I worry a little about Napoli. Jorginho's passing and interceptions will be heavily missed. With Hamsik as the pivot, I can see the back 4 being exposed.
on the 3rd August, 2018 at 10:49am
Plus Berisha & his European experience. He fits the mold well. Sadly - I believe Inter & Milan (following Higuain Caldara) have strengthened even more so. I too doubt Roma Merda's moves but it will be a tough hill to climb to make it into the CL. Can't see Carletto letting them finish outside the top 4 - he is a serial winner. That being said - Inter now have Europe to take on unlike last year so you never know. Forza Simo - Forza Lazio - Win both derbys - Make me happy!
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 2:57pm
I believe this team will be one of the toughest, they have kept nearly all their best players, trimming the fat by selling players that do not fit the model and putting on the muscle with great signings affordably. Team to watch this year.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 11:19am
If there had been only one team in Rome, they woulda been as successful as Juve, Milan & Inter.
on the 2nd August, 2018 at 9:08am

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