Not for the first time, Lazio supporters voiced their discontent with Claudio Lotito’s running of the club. Displaying a banner over a bridge in Rome, they did not hold back, accusing the club of making “false promises” towards them and complaining about the “usual havoc” in the transfer window.
Indeed, it’s been a frustrating summer for the Biancocelesti. And it started off so promisingly too. Coming off the back of one of their most successful seasons in recent memory - in which they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in over a decade - the club pursued David Silva. It was a statement of intent. A big-name signing to befit Lazio’s newfound status as one of Italy’s top clubs.
It wasn’t to be. David Silva snubbed Lazio’s offer in favour of a return to Spain, in what would turn out to be the beginning of an underwhelming - and at times, infuriating - transfer window. The Biancocelesti have made just three signings so far: goalkeeper Pepe Reina, central-midfielder Gonzalo Escalante and striker Vedat Muriqi.
Reina and Escalante arrived on a free and are hardly game-changing signings, with the pair instead providing quality in depth as Lazio attempt to juggle their domestic and European obligations. Muriqi, on the other hand, is an excellent purchase, having just had a couple of prolific seasons in the Turkish Super Lig, and will hopefully be the reliable vice-Immobile that Lazio have been crying out for.
Mohamed Fares should’ve joined the club by now too, and the delays in getting his deal over the line has been the most frustrating part of the transfer window so far. The Algerian took his medical two weeks ago, and has been training with the Lazio squad ever since, but is still technically a SPAL player as the Biancocelesti have yet to confirm the deal.
This is due to the club’s problems with the FIGC’s liquidity index. In short, Lazio need to sell a player before they can buy one. This issue is also preventing Lazio from re-signing Wesley Hoedt, who had medicals scheduled with the club last weekend before they were cancelled. These transfers should go through eventually, with Wallace reportedly close to a move away.
Fares should prove to be a shrewd signing. He’s used to playing in a formation similar to Simone Inzaghi’s and has flourished playing as a left-wing-back within that system, a position that Lazio were in dire need of. There are question marks over Hoedt’s return, though. The centre-back previously had a two-year spell with the Biancocelesti between 2015 and 2017 before making a €17m move to Premier League side Southampton.
Having not really set the world alight during his time in Rome, he was quickly forgotten about. That was up until last week, when rumours started to surface about his return to the club. It’s a disappointing signing to say the least, especially when you take into consideration that Lazio really needed a centre-back, one that ideally has enough quality to play in the Champions League.
There are signs that Lazio will end the transfer window in a positive fashion, however, with Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira reportedly close to completing a loan move (with the option to buy). Though Lazio fans, having experienced an incredibly frustrating transfer window, will probably only believe it when the club makes an official announcement.
Even with these arrivals, it would be a stretch to say they are befitting of a top-four team. Indeed, Milan and Napoli - who didn’t qualify for the Champions League - have had much better transfer windows and seem a more likely bet to finish in the top-four this season.
Lazio’s main strength, and one that provides optimism that they can retain their top-four place, is that they’ve managed to keep all their key players from last season. It won’t be easy, though, especially now they have to juggle both Serie A and the Champions League, a task made harder by the Biancocelesti’s failure to significantly strengthen their squad.
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