On face value, it has been a fascinating summer for Lazio so far. At the beginning of the window, the likes of Luis Alberto, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Thomas Strakosha, amongst others, were all being linked with moves away from the club. However, with just a couple of weeks left now until the market slams shut and the 2019/20 Serie A campaign begins, it looks as though the Biancocelesti management has done exceedingly well to keep hold of some vital cogs of Simone Inzaghi’s machine. Not only this but the club have strengthened several key areas of the side; perhaps without the illustrious names and spending power of some Serie A competitors but with a care for financial stability and squad depth.
At the beginning of the summer, there were several glaring holes in the Lazio squad. The club seemed to be in dire need of a right wing-back as a top priority. Romulo had just finished a mediocre loan spell from Genoa and Adam Marusic continues to divide opinion amongst fans; some of which view him as a real talent and others who see him as a waste of salary. Regardless of this, sporting director Igli Tare knew that a right sided defender was needed and the club turned its attention to a familiar name, SPAL’s Manuel Lazzari. The Italian wing-back had been linked with Lazio last summer and in the January market but with increasing competition from the likes of Inter Milan and Atalanta, who could both offer Champions League football, the probability of seeing Lazzari in Rome grew slimmer.
However, Lazio showed an incisiveness in negotiations that has been perhaps lacking in previous summers and set their minds on Lazzari; the move being made official on the 12th July, for a reported figure of €10m plus the card of Alessandro Murgia heading in the other direction. Murgia had spent the previous season on loan with SPAL and was a small price to pay to secure a top priority target at the beginning of July. Lazzari will, in all likelihood, be Simone Inzaghi’s first choice for the right wing-back role for this upcoming season and will hopefully provide Adam Marusic with enough competition to get the Montenegrin performing better in addition.
A week before Lazzari signed, Lazio made their first big purchase of the summer; filling yet another role that needed strengthening. From FC Copenhagen arrived Slovakian centre-back Denis Vavro, who moved to the Biancocelesti for an initial €9m plus an extra €1.5m in bonuses. Vavro is primarily a right-sided central defender, adding depth to the back-line and allowing the club to focus on the departure of Brazilian centre-back Wallace, who has struggled for the club. As of time of writing, Lazio are yet to offload Wallace but the very fact that the club can focus on selling him, without the concern of being understaffed in defence, will come as a relief to many, especially those unconvinced by Wallace’s performances.
Like Lazzari, Vavro was not a big-name signing. He does not match the high potential star power of Juventus’ new wondered Matthijs de Ligt, or hold a similar reputation to new Napoli defender Kostas Manolas or Inter’s Diego Godin. However, Vavro represents an understanding on behalf of the Lazio management that it is possible to identify and strengthen particular areas of the team without overspending on either fee or wages, instead building a sustainable foundation for the club’s development.
A few other names have arrived in Rome this summer. Spanish left-winger Jony arrived from Malaga; having been an outstanding creator from the left flank for his loan club Deportivo Alaves in La Liga last season, whilst Liverpool youngster Bobby Adekanye arrived on a free. Some other primavera signings were made, such as Santos FC starlet Gustavo Cipriano, yet these are all ones to watch for the future; rather than this season. Jony can be useful to Simone Inzaghi for this campaign but it is yet to be decided which role he will fill, perhaps seen to be too offensive to play the left wing-back role, which requires whoever fills it to track back and help defend if need be. Furthermore, Jony would do well to remove club captain Senad Lulic from his place in the starting XI in his first season.
Overall, as I have already mentioned, Lazio’s summer has hardly been the most illustrious. It hasn’t kept us on the edge of our seats with high calibre player after high calibre player being linked to the club. However, what it has been is realistic and should prove to be effective. The main areas of concern have been bolstered with two weeks left to finish up any other parts of the team; such as perhaps signing a new vice-Immobile or another central defender. In an added bonus, keeping hold of key players like Luis Alberto and Milinkovic-Savic will have pleased Simone Inzaghi and there is a real belief amongst the Biancocelesti camp that this could be the year to attain Champions League qualification.
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