Valon Berisha: A Player Who Lazio Should Start to Consider
In the summer of 2018, Valon Berisha was set to join Sampdoria but changed his mind at the last minute after interest from Sporting Director Igli Tare and Lazio.
Prior to signing with the Biancocelesti, Berisha scored 45 goals in all competitions in his six seasons with Red Bull Salzburg. His final season with the club was his most productive where he scored 13 goals in all competitions. While being a forward-thinking central midfielder, the Kosovar has shown that he has the ability to make strong tackles and dribble with the ball very well over the years. Berisha also effectively advances the ball upfield and finds space at the edge of the box. However, since arriving in Rome, the midfielder has not been able to deliver the same results as he did with the Austrian club. A player who has been known to work hard and show determination has been derailed by injuries and lack of opportunities when he has been healthy.
During the International break in September, Kosovo played a match against England. Berisha had an outstanding game and made his presence known. Although his country lost 5-3 to the Three Lions, Berisha made the headlines by scoring two goals. His performance in the match left Newcastle United fans suggesting that they should have signed the Kosovar when the opportunity had presented itself… At the same time in which Sampdoria was looking like a possible destination, the Magpies were another option for the midfielder. However, with their owner unwilling to budge to pay the amount necessary for the midfielder, Tare did what was necessary to secure a deal; Berisha decided to sign with Lazio in that same summer.
When he joined the Italian side, the club was expecting good things from the midfielder. But constant knee problems have limited Berisha and he has been unable to showcase his abilities and talents; in the 2018/19 season, he appeared in just 14 matches did not manage to score in any of them.
With Berisha fully recovered from his injury ahead of the 2019/2020 season, he was presented with an almost fresh start with the Biancocelesti. However, Simone Inzaghi has had too many players to choose from in his lineup. This has made it difficult for the Kosovar to be inserted into the team and find regular playing time; the manager has become accustomed to using star players Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the midfield and Joaquin Correa as a second striker in nearly every match.
As the Biancocelesti get ready to dive into a busy second half of their season, they will be participating in the Serie A, the UEFA Europa League, and the Coppa Italia. Giving starters a break to prevent injury and fatigue is essential, and therefore, it is now or never for the manager to consider playing Berisha more often to help Lazio in the long term; the midfielder was acquired for a reason and should now be given his chance to prove what he is worth to Lazio. If not, the team as a whole could be punished similarly to last season. This is when the Biancocelesti played Sevilla in the Round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League and were derailed by multiple injuries and poor form.
Although the club may not make it out of the group stage of UEFA Europa League this season, it is still something that the club should consider, especially when there are mid-week Serie A matches and the Coppa Italia around the corner. While it’s uncertain what Inzaghi will decide to do with his lineup going forward, the Kosovar did not come cheap and it does not make sense for this investment to be sitting on the bench in most matches. Berisha provides depth and has shown that he can add value; this is a player that could make a difference in Lazio’s season to help them acquire a top-four spot and thus make next year’s UEFA Champions League.