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 his pace and dribbling ability was 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 is 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. Secondly his consistency: this has been as been a big issue of Felipe Anderson’s career of Lazio as when he is on his game, he is one of the best in the world – 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 is 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 has diminished, and will continue to do so. Inzaghi wants 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 fans would hate to see the player leave, the management of Lazio must let him depart now, so we are able to collect the maximum dollar amount possible before his contract expires and a situation similar to that of Stefan De Vrij occurs (where he would leave for free, or for less than his actual value). Felipe Anderson has also been with the club for 5 years now, and though he has much respect for the biancocelesti colours, he wants to join a top side in Europe to improve his chances at playing internationally with Brazil.
West Ham have emerged as a club that want to sign the Brazilian, and an offer has been put on the table: €35m (£30.8m) plus add-ons (bonuses) for the 25-year-old is the rumoured fee. It is now up to President Claudio Lotito now to decide: does Lazio sell one of their most valued assets, or do they keep him with the risk of ruining his reputation with the club?