Felipe Anderson of Lazio, Graphic: @snhw_
Felipe Anderson of Lazio, Graphic: @snhw_

@S_K_MOORE

A recruit scouted by Albanian Sporting Director Igli Tare, £6.85m (€7.8 million) was spent to bring 20-year-old Santos starlet Felipe Anderson to the Capital of Italy back in the summer of 2013. An exciting purchase, he was one of the many players to be brought to the side that year in an attempt to kick-start the biancocelesti: Lucas Biglia, Antonio Candreva, Brayan Perea, Etrit Berisha, and Diego Novaretti all joined that summer.

Being only 20-years of age, with no knowledge of the lifestyle in Italy, or how to speak the language, Anderson was kept as a reserve over the course of the 2013/14 season. He managed to make only 7 starts (out of the 13 appearances he was given in the Serie A TIM) under former coach Edoardo Reja, who after obtaining a ninth place finish in 2013, was consequentially sacked. Still looking for his first goal, Felipe Anderson was entrusted with more playing time come the following season at the ripe age of 22: Stefano Pioli had taken charge of the biancocelesti and managed a third-place finish in his first season (2014/15). A key part to his success? The pure raw talent of one ‘Felipe Anderson’.

Laziali around the world – including the club – were finally able to see what Tare had seen in the player: the Brazilian was put on the wing, and both his pace and dribbling ability were in full effect. He made 32 appearances in the light blue and white jersey, which resulted in 10 goals and 7 assists. The Brazilian winger was fundamental to Pioli’s plans, and this allowed for Felipe to be used as a first team player once again the following season for the club, in which he was able to feature in the Europa League.

A small figure, Anderson can be one of the most promising players when attacking with the ball: his quick feet and terrific ball control allow him to glide past the opposition without much of a challenge. His downfall primarily comes down to his:

  • Size: sitting at 1.75 m, he is not an aerial threat by any sorts, and he is easily shrugged off the ball;
  • Consistency: this has been a big issue surrounding Felipe Anderson’s career, as when he is on his game he is can be one of the best in Europe, but when he is having an off day, he is nearly invisible.

This has aggravated some fans, especially with the talent they had over the 2016/17 season and this past year. With players such as Keita Balde and Ciro immobile, Felipe Anderson was the perfect trio to the group which could have seen Lazio soar. However, he failed to take the opportunity to the best extent possible with newly promoted coach and former Lazio player Simone Inzaghi. This year, after returning from injury back in December, there was an argument that kept Felipe Anderson out of the squad due to his behaviour and poor performance following the Genoa clash where he played the final 20 minutes. He was virtually invisible and it resulted in his suspension from the team for one match day, stirring controversy of a possible departure.

So, why was it the perfect time for Felipe Anderson to actually leave the club this summer? The reason is simple. After a break-out season from former Liverpool and Barcelona attacking-midfielder Luis Alberto, Felipe Anderson’s playing time had diminished, and would have continued to do so. Inzaghi wanted to treat both players equal, but in the 3-5-2 formation that is put into play by the tactician, there is only room for only one or the other from match-to-match (a secondary striking role behind Ciro Immobile).

With a player of Anderson’s quality and age, as much as all Laziali hate to see the player leave, the management of Lazio were smart in allowing him to depart now, so they were able to collect the maximum dollar amount possible before his contract expires and a situation similar to that of Stefan De Vrij occurred (where he would leave for free, or for less than his actual value). Felipe Anderson had also been with the club for 5 years, and though he had much respect for the biancocelesti colours, he wanted to join a top side in Europe to improve his chances at playing internationally with Brazil.

West Ham emerged as the club to officially sign the Brazilian, with an offer around the €40 million euro mark including bonuses: President Claudio Lotito decided to sell one of their most valued assets, instead of keeping him with the risk of ruining his reputation with the club – a very smart move. The player landed in England yesterday, and is set to be unveiled shortly.