Laziali worldwide are waiting to understand if, in addition to Dutch center-half Stefan de Vrij and Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson, any other current top name Lazio footballers will be departing from the squad.
The worries are surrounding that of Italian prolific striker Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, the Serbian Sergeant in midfield. Both players continue to deny any rumours that head their way, along with President Claudio Lotito. However, the biancocelesti President has also stated that if “indecent offers arrive” (meaning “if an absurd amount of cash were to be proposed)”, he would consider the situation. This is absolutely correct and valid, as declining €150 million for one player alone (Lotito’s asking price for Milinkovic-Savic) would be irrational. With an open market and therefore the ongoing possibility that scenarios can suddenly change with transfers materializing between top European clubs with other key players, it is not easy for fans to remain calm in the time that remains before the market closure.
In the meantime, to keep Laziali busy and excited, the biancocelesti have recently completed the signing of Croatian international centrocampista Milan Badelj on a free transfer. Coach Simone Inzaghi now finds himself surrounded by a great alternative in addition to the already compact squad: Badelj is of top class and quality and is already accustomed to the Italian league – Badelj played with Fiorentina for four years (the summer of 2014 to this year until his contract expired and refused a renewal). In terms of the competition for their starting roles, Badelj will have to first overcome the potential candidate pool of Senad Lulic, Valon Berisha, Alessandro Murgia, Danilo Cataldi, Joseph Minala and Davide Di Gennaro, before moving onto the starting XI midfielders of Milinkovic-Savic, Marco Parolo and Lucas Leiva. However, everything could change if in the end the Serbian does depart, as it would open a gap in the starting XI that the midfielders would fight to grasp.
Milan Badelj was perhaps the most wanted free agent of Serie A this summer transfer market. The rumours that resulted in his free transfer, included that of almost all the first-tier Italian teams, but also foreign clubs such as Russia’s Zenit St. Petersburg and Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon. However, in the end, however, the Croatian signed for Lazio – a main reason due to his desire to remain in the Serie A within Italy.
Badelj was among the squad of Croatia for the World Cup, but he did not contribute much to the path that led Modric and his companions until the final. He had only one start from the mezzala (holding midfield) position with qualification already acquired against Iceland during the group stage – the game in which he scored a goal and provided an assist to earn him the man of the match award. He also had two other appearances late on in extra time in the quarter-finals against Denmark (108′) and England in the semi-finals (119′) but he was unable to make the greatest impact. This limited playing time was the result of the dominant midfield trio composed of Brozovic, Modric and Rakitic, who are all more well-known than Badelj for technique and vision going forward. Dalic selected them for every match and Badlej was forced to remain sidelined until called upon.
Looking towards the upcoming 2018/19 season with Lazio, the Croatian will now have to deal with Brazilian mezzala Lucas Leiva, whose arrival in Rome last year could not have gone any better. Known for his defensive ability, at 31 years of age, Lucas Leiva had a break-out season for the biancocelesti, unlocking the most creative and offensive part of his game. Last season, he scored 4 goals and provided 7 assists in all competitions a fantastic total in terms of his standards. Therefore, on paper, it is less likely to see both players on the field together, unless Inzaghi excludes Marco Parolo, a key pawn on the biancocelesti chessboard with his positioning without the ball. What seems likely is that Simone Inzaghi will alternate between two expert and extremely reliable profiles of Badelj and Lucas Leiva, placing them right in front of the defenders for one of the most complete and deep midfielding units of the Italian Serie A.
The final weeks of transfer market may still change the tactics of Inzaghi, but one thing that is for sure is surrounding the business done so far in the transfer market. Laziali should be excited for this upcoming season, especially signing Milan Badelj – the perfect addition for Lazio.
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