Edy Reja felt “a full strength Lazio could’ve beaten Napoli” tonight and commented on the Hernanes saga.
The Biancocelesti lost the Coppa Italia quarter-final 1-0 at the San Paolo and the holders crashed out of the competition. It was the first defeat since Reja replaced Vladimir Petkovic at the turn of the year.
“We contained Napoli well in the first half and moved the ball around well. I am satisfied with the performance, especially with players like Brayan Perea and Felipe Anderson who are only 20 and were exhausted,” Reja told Rai Sport.
“Unfortunately Hernanes and Antonio Candreva had these injury problems and it wasn’t worth it to risk them, then we lost a few others during the game. We’ll evaluate the fitness levels and discuss it with the medics, but they shouldn’t be serious injuries.
“The forwards used up a lot of energy in the first half, they are inexperienced and have to mature. They can only learn by playing, so we wait for them to develop and help out the older players who need a rest.
“I am a bit annoyed, as seeing Napoli today they were perhaps within our reach. Miroslav Klose has flu and couldn’t play, Hernanes and Candreva weren’t well either, so with a full strength team I think Lazio could’ve won tonight.”
Naturally, the Coach was asked about Hernanes, who is reportedly on the verge of a move to Inter for €12m plus Ibrahima Mbaye.
“It has nothing to do with me. We’ve been talking about the market for a long time, but I won’t give any judgment and won’t comment. The plans of the club are clear. We have two objectives left and need to climb up the Serie A table.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say we are dismantling the squad. Sergio Floccari is leaving and we’re bringing in a player of good quality in that role.
“I know there are requests for Hernanes, but as far as I know he is not for sale. I’ve spoken to him, he is calm and relaxed. Does he want to leave? I don’t know, you’d have to ask him and his agent, but he isn’t making a public show of anything.
“Felipe Anderson could in theory replace Hernanes, though he’s more of a second striker than a midfielder. He’s muscular and in my view more adept at playing in wide areas. He’s Brazilian and likes to hold the ball, whereas in midfield you need to pass it quickly.
Reja also defended Federico Marchetti, who was again on the bench in favour of Etrit Berisha.
“Marchetti is the first choice, but he had stomach problems recently and is not well, so Berisha is playing at the moment.
“I am here, I have this commitment to the club and aim to finish it. One of the objectives was to get the best out of young players in a squad that is overall not very young, so there has to be a renewal process. We want to climb as high up the table as possible and to build for the future too.
“I won’t say we are aiming for the top spots, but I think we can catch up to fifth or sixth place.”
Reja is a former Napoli Coach, so reassured Lorenzo Insigne after the player reacted angrily to jeers from the San Paolo crowd.
“I know the Napoli fans and often the excess of love they have. They adore Insigne and always expect extraordinary performances from him, but that’s simply impossible for an entire season. He is young and the fans need to demand less from him right now.”
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk