Lazio have made some of the most clever and successful signings in the past and present as a football club, which all started back in 1992 with the arrival of President Sergio Cragnotti. He changed the club’s history with long-term investments in new players to make the team a Scudetto competitor, which included Czech youngster Pavel Nedvěd, Argentine Juan Sebastián Verón, long-lasting Biancocelesti legend Stefano Mauri, English midfielder Paul Gascoigne, and ‘then-world transfer record’ Parma star Hernán Crespo. It was a period of great dominance for Lazio and its history, as these players were brought to the club to bring success; it happened as they secured one Scudetto, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, two Coppa Italia, and two Supercoppa Italiana. Unfortunately, like all things in life, nothing lasts forever. With money running out, Lazio’s performances and results slowly declined in the years to come because of Cragnotti leaving the club in 2002 after a financial scandal between himself and his food company Cirio. This led the club to bankruptcy, selling most of their stars to make back some of their foregone costs. However, in 2004 businessman Claudio Lotito bought back most of the club and Lazio has now re-emerged into being one of the powerhouses of the Italian Serie A with recent signings such as attacker Ciro Immobile, skillful Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson, and midfield Serbian sensation Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. However, with all this success in the transfer market, the Biancocelesti have also had their fair share of transfer failure in the past. Below, the Top Five Transfer Disasters of Lazio’.
5. Mauro Zarate
Mauro Zarate was an Argentinian footballer who was signed by Qatari side Al-Saad, where he played only for 6 months and was immediately loaned out to Birmingham City in the Premier League. However, after Birmingham’s relegation, a loan move to Lazio (July 5th, 2008) was arranged and he was an instant hit with the Italian side both in and off the field. Fans and players alike loved him, and in his first season, he won a Coppa Italia with Biancocelesti. He went on to score an impressive 13 goals in 36 appearances for the Italian outfit. Impressed by his performance and off-field demeanour Lazio decided to buy him out-right and paid Al-Saad a fee of €20 million in the 2009 Transfer Window. The Italian outfit also added a release clause of €60 million in his contract. Things were looking good for the Argentine international at this point but the goals were drying up for Zarate. He was never able to repeat his heroics he did in his initial season, at the same time he was also caught up in a controversial incident where was captured in a photograph doing a fascist salute during a Serie A match against Bari, for which he later issued an apology through his spokesman that “he did not know the significance of the gesture he made.” He only went on to score 12 goals for the club in 68 appearances, and due to his poor form, he was loaned out to Inter Milan before returning to his first club Velez Sarsfield.
4. Ravel Morrison
Ravel Morrison was one of the most highly talented youngsters in the world back in his days at Manchester United. Touted as the next big thing by British media and according to Rio Ferdinand, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson thought he was “the best player he has seen at the age of 17.” Morrison at a young age had to live up to those expectations, but he failed to deliver not due to lack of his ability or footballing talent, but because of his poor off-field lifestyle and lack of discipline which in turn led him to move out of United with short stints at West Ham, Birmingham, and Cardiff. In January of 2015, the Biancocelesti had agreed to a four year deal with Morrison on a free transfer, as his contract at West Ham was going to expire. Morrison had a baggage of disciplinary issues prior to his move to Italy and Lazio knew what they were signing up for. Morrison made a promising start to his Lazio career by scoring two goals and providing two assists in a friendly match which made fans go ecstatic over the kind of player they had, and the potential they were having at their disposal. However, things never turned out the way they should have – Morrison featured very scarcely for the eagles in the 2015-16 season where coach Stefano Pioli criticized his efforts, discipline, and inability to speak Italian. The former England U17 international went on to make only four appearances for the Italian side with no goals and was subsequently transferred to Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League.
3. Djibril Cisse
Djibril Cisse was a mercurial French striker who played for Liverpool, Marseille and Panathinaikos before making his move to Lazio in July of 2011 for a fee of €5.8 million, on a four-year deal. He had a dream debut to his Biancocelesti career, scoring a goal for the club against Milan at the San Siro. However, after his promising debut, much was expected out of the French striker to help Lazio score goals alongside striking partner Miroslav Klose, but things went downhill for the former Liverpool striker. He would only play in 18 games for the Biancocelesti that season. His Lazio journey came to an end when he was transferred to Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League back in 2012.
2. Gaizka Mendieta
Gaizka Mendieta was a Spanish footballer playing for Valencia in Spain that was known for his good technique and offensive capabilities. He was a crucial part of the Valencia squad which reached the finals of the Champions League where he was voted as the ‘UEFA Best Midfielder of the Year’. Mendieta was one of the most in-demand midfielders at the time, however, it was Lazio who clinched his signature for a record fee of €47.7 million, making him the sixth most expensive player in the world at the time. The huge transfer meant there was huge pressure on the Spaniard, and this all-in-all led to his downfall as he would go on to struggle playing for the Biancocelesti where he could only play for a season, making 20 appearances and failing to score. The following summer he was loaned out to Barcelona and subsequently moved to Middlesbrough in the Premier League in 2004.
1. Juan Pablo Carrizo
Juan Pablo Carrizo is an Argentine Goalkeeper who started his career with River Plate in Argentina. He played a crucial role in their championship-winning side in 2006, and these performances led to Lazio being tempted to buy him from the Argentinian side in the Summer of 2007. However, the move did not materialize due to his complications in getting his work permit. Lazio finally signed him in the summer of 2008 for a fee of €7.5 million. Much was expected out of the shot-stopper from Argentina but he made a lot of individual errors which led to goals. Finally, he was replaced as the first-choice keeper for Lazio by Fernando Muslera. Not happy with his situation Carrizo decided to express his unhappiness with his place in the squad in the media repeatedly stating “if it continues like this [at Lazio] then I have already decided I will change my environment in June; in Italy, I have been treated like a baby who could not handle the pressure, which is strange because I tend goal for Argentina.” For this interview, Lazio decided to fine Carrizo €20,000 and there was no coming back for the Argentine as the bridges were broken between him and Biancocelesti. He was subsequently loaned out to newly-promoted La Liga side Real Zaragoza in 2009. He is the ‘biggest flop’ of Lazio’s transfer history.