Reports from Portuguese outlet A Bola in the past few days have suggested that Portuguese side Benfica is accelerating in their pursuit of Lazio starlet Pedro Neto. Neto joined Lazio on a two-year loan in 2017, with an obligation to buy the forward alongside Bruno Jordao; the midfielder joining Lazio on an identical deal to that of Neto.
Selling Pedro Neto, however, would be a huge mistake on Lazio’s part – even if the squad were able to fetch a transfer fee of around €17m, as has been reported by A Bola. For the total cost of Neto’s loan and permanent transfer, his fee will have been €16m, as per TransferMarkt, and therefore the Biancocelesti would be hardly profiting off of the talented young Portuguese forward.
The case for selling the youngster is based on the club’s need to sell players in order to ‘balance the books’ and free up the funds to reinvest in an attacker or another area of the pitch. However, this makes little logical sense as Pedro Neto could, with the right growth and game-time, be a smarter acquisition than many of the forwards that the club has been linked to so far.
Neto himself confessed that he turned down offers from Manchester United and Barcelona to join Lazio and the 19-year-old is undeniably a gifted player. Keeping both Felipe Caicedo and Pedro Neto would save Lazio from having to spend any more money on the attack and balancing the rotational game-time between the two could be enough for Pedro Neto to show real signs of development in the upcoming season.
Even a loan makes more logical sense for the forward than selling him outright. A loan spell would give him the chance to play a leading role at a smaller club, before returning to Rome for the 2020/21 season when he could be in a better position to claim a regular role in the Lazio starting eleven.
Neto represents something that Lazio have not held for some time – an extremely high potential young attacker. It would be confusing if the club were to sell one of the most expensive and most talented young players that we have seen in recent years, for the sake of purchasing a more aged forward in the same position. The Biancocelesti already boast Ciro Immobile, one of the most talented forwards in Serie A and Neto’s versatility, able to play at any number of attacking positions, makes him a valuable asset that the club should not cede so easily.