Luis Alberto: “Lotito’s words bothered me…”

Luis Alberto - Source-LaPresse
Luis Alberto – Source-LaPresse

Luis Alberto has admitted that he was bothered by the words of Lazio president Claudio Lotito when asked about a potential transfer.

The football season has ended and the transfer period is truly upon us. Every day, the back pages across Europe are filled with stories of players who want to leave and clubs that want to sign them. One such story from earlier in the month involved SS Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto and a potential move to Spain. The Spanish Alberto has plied his trade in Italy since 2016 transfer but has been linked with a return.

Sevilla are said to be interested in reacquiring his services, six years after he departed for Liverpool. The La Liga side are embarking on a rebuild after a slightly disappointing season. The former Real Madrid and Spain boss Julen Lopetegui has arrived and is expected to be joined by the Nantes defender Diego Carlos. Reports in Spain and Italy suggest that he would like to bring Lazio’s Luis Alberto with him.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito was asked about these rumors and responded quite frankly.

“If there is one thing in football that’s not missing, it’s players,” said the club’s owner. His comments made it back to Alberto personally and it’s fair to say that the 26-year-old wasn’t overly pleased.

“The words of Lotito bothered me, I didn’t understand them,” he said to ABC of Sevilla.

“Some things I really don’t understand. If you speak like this, it means you don’t value your players. We won two trophies and I don’t think it happened by chance.”

“Until now I didn’t want to speak, I didn’t give interviews, but now I need to say what I think. Until a short while ago I thought I couldn’t be sold, now no. We’ll see what happens.”

Alberto did have some slightly kinder words for his manager Simone Inzaghi before being asked more explicitly about Sevilla.

“Sevilla is my home and I will never close the door,” Alberto confessed.

“At the moment they haven’t called me, but there are contacts. My agent knows, I am calm and those who know me know that I would like to play with Sevilla.”

“My family is here, my people, the fans and Lopetegui. But I am appreciative of Lazio and what they have done for my family. I am aware and I won’t forget these things. Will I play in Spain or Italy? I would like to know myself.”

It’s a fascinating series of quotes. Luis Alberto is clearly keen on the idea of returning to his hometown club at some point in his career – understandable so. However, it’s doubtful that Lotito will force him out. He stated last week just how important Luis Alberto is to the Biancocelesti, arguing he is just as indispensable as teammate Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Alberto is indeed a vital player. The Spaniard impressed soon after joining the side but has developed since then. His tally of 11 goals and 13 assists in 34 Serie A matches during his second season was amongst the best in Europe. But it didn’t last. Whether it was the injury problems or the change in squad number, Alberto’s standard dropped significantly last season. Things improved after the Spaniard moved to a deeper role but inconsistency has continued to plague his career.

The Spaniard’s dip in form certainly affected Le Aquile league last season. The sixth-place Serie A finish was 13 points worse off than the one before. Simone Inzaghi will be most disappointed with just how many matches Lazio lost in the league with a total of 13. Admittedly, almost two-thirds of them were by a single goal but it will still need to be set straight next term.

Of course, the cup success went some way to paper over the cracks. The 2-0 Coppa Italia final win was a memorable one and there’s a feeling that another cup run could be on the cards. Lazio are the 6/1 second-favourites to lift the cup next season on Betway as of 19 June. Juventus are out in front at 6/4 but the Biancocelesti are still very much in the running.

But they’ll need their best players to still be at the club if they hope to repeat the cup success. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of them but so is Luis Alberto. The Spaniard may not have hit the heights of his career during the last twelve months but there were still flashes of excellence.

Claudio Lotito’s comments were a little pointed and it was hardly a surprise to see Alberto react poorly to them. His agent has even confirmed that he would like to remain at Lazio but it is always difficult for a player to turn down their hometown club. Let’s hope that isn’t the case for Alberto or else Lotito could regret his comments. There is no shortage of players but there aren’t too many like Luis Alberto.