Lazio’s biggest purchase of the summer could prove to cost nothing at all: keeping Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Few believed he would remain, considering the rumoured €100m offers pouring in from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and even Milan. Ultimately, will it be a wise move for all concerned?
President Claudio Lotito loves to send out a message that he is the toughest negotiator in the business and won’t be the poaching ground for rich transfer tourists, the way city rivals Roma are perceived nowadays. The Giallorossi could’ve got more from Mohamed Salah and Alisson Becker sales to Liverpool, yet people forget just how massive a profit they made on those two players in a very brief turn-over.
Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson went from €8m benchwarmer to €62m sale in the space of 12 months. Salah cost €20m and the Giallorossi doubled their investment – with up to €50m coming in based on bonuses – in a year. A selling club they may be, but at least they’re pretty good at it.
Lazio’s determination to prove their strength has at times been counter-productive. Keita Balde Diao allowed his contract to run down until a sale to Monaco for €30m was pretty much forced upon both parties. That deal was done to prevent him going to first choice Inter and the striker ended up there anyway. Lotito played hardball with Felipe Anderson, claiming he rejected a €75m offer for the Brazilian last year. When he eventually did go to West Ham United, it was for around half that sum. Still a profit for a player who cost €7.5m in 2013, but a disappointment when talked up so much by his club.
Let’s not even get into those times when Lotito pushed his principles too far and ended up losing players from Goran Pandev to Stefan de Vrij as free agents.
Milinkovic-Savic is a genuine talent, there are few doubts about that, but the €150m asking price is off the charts. While staying at the Stadio Olimpico for one more year to develop and hone his craft is positive for the Serbian, it remains to be seen if it’ll be a good business decision for Lazio.
SMS is hot stuff in the media right now and fans are clamouring for his signature on social media, so will his market value get much higher than this? Would Lazio do better to sell when his stock is sky high and reinvest in several other players? If it’s a sporting decision, then of course the team is stronger with Milinkovic-Savic. In terms of business, Lazio don’t always know when it’s the right time to sell.