According to the latest edition of Corriere dello Sport, Lazio have declined the option to sign former Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos to pursue Barcelona youngster Jean-Clair Todibo, who is currently on loan at Portuguese Liga NOS side Benfica.
This last-minute transfer market activity from the Biancocelesti for a central defender is the result of Luiz Felipe’s recent injury. He was forced to have surgery on his ankle which will keep him out of action for the next few months at best.
Todibo, who was acquired by the Spanish La Liga giants back in January 2019 following his contract expiry with French Ligue 1 side Toulouse, has failed to live up to expectations, to say the least.
Due to a combination of factors, including being short of match fitness when he arrived at the Camp Nou, underperforming in training and picking up a few injuries, he managed to earn just five caps with the senior team before being loaned out to German Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04 in January 2020 with an option to buy set at €25 million.
Despite performing and enjoying life with Schalke, the club had a rather unimpressive season and could not afford to exercise their option to purchase Todibo. As a result, he returned to Spain; but with little hope at a chance with the first team, his future lied elsewhere.
While numerous clubs in Europe were rumoured to be interested in signing the player outright, it was Benfica who finally snatched the player on a two-year loan deal this past summer that also included an option to buy set at €20 million.
Despite this being another chance to prove his worth, it has been largely unsuccessful, primarily due to Manager Jorge Jesus, who is said to not have confidence in the young defender. For this reason, Todibo seems destined to try and cancel his loan to join another club to acquire more playing time; he has featured in just two matches thus far this 2020/21 campaign.
With Lazio’s depth in the backline looking thin, the 21-year-old could be the perfect option to bolster the department. Capable of filling in for the injured Luiz Felipe, there is a strong possibility that this move would revive his career, as Biancocelesti Manager Simone Inzaghi has proven time and time again that he knows how to get the best out of his players.