It’s clear that Lazio need to strengthen their midfield in the upcoming summer transfer window, with the ageing Lucas Leiva struggling to keep up with the high level of his counterparts, Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Sporting director Igli Tare has identified four players who could be signed in the summer to bolster the club’s midfield, as reported by Italian media outlet Cittaceleste.it.
The Brazilian midfielder, who will turn 35 next season, has been a faithful servant of the Biancocelesti since joining in 2017, but it’s apparent that the Roman club need to rejuvenate their squad if they want to become a consistent feature in the Champions League.
Compared to the last two seasons, Leiva has completed fewer tackles per 90 min, fewer blocks per 90 min and has a lower pass completion rate, suggesting that the former Liverpool man is now starting to decline.
The least likely but potentially most exciting option is Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul. The 26-year-old Argentinian midfielder, who is contracted to the Bianconeri until 2024, is one of the top midfielders in Serie A this season, and will likely make the jump to a big club this summer.
With a price tag of around €30 million and serious competition from Premier League side Leeds United (via Football Insider), it seems difficult to imagine De Paul joining Lazio, even if the Roman club achieve a top-four finish this season.
It’s no surprise that the Udinese star has made his way into Tare’s notebook, however, when considering his statistics from the last 12 months.
De Paul has completed 6.66 progressive passes per 90 min, 9.69 progressive carries per 90, 2.73 dribbles per 90 and averages 4.53 shot-creating actions per 90, incredible figures for a midfielder in a provincial side.
A more realistic option to strengthen Lazio’s midfield is estranged Arsenal-owned man Lucas Torreira. Currently on loan with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, the 25-year-old Uruguayan has had a tough season, only making three starts in La Liga this campaign.
Valued at around €15 million by the Gunners, Torreira would be a lower-cost alternative to De Paul and his previous successes in Serie A with Sampdoria help to swallow his relatively disappointing recent seasons.
Despite this, Lazio may not be willing to risk the move due to Torreira’s price tag and his lack of consistent playing time, especially after the heavy investment and lack of reward in the Vedat Muriqi deal.
Returning to Serie A, another possible alternative is Bologna’s Mattias Svanberg. The 22-year-old Swede has impressed this season under coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and his tactical flexibility makes him an attractive target; He is able to play as a central midfielder, a half-back and as a trequartista.
Bologna would want around €10 million for the 22-year-old Svanberg, who is contracted to the Rossoblu until 2023.
This campaign in Serie A, the Swede has made 31 appearances across all competitions for a total of 1673 minutes, scoring five goals and providing two assists in that time.
The last player on this list is Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kökçü. The 20-year-old Turk has shown some promise in the Eredivisie this season, but he has also developed a reputation for having inconsistent performances.
Feyenoord want around €12 million for Kökçü, a price that the Biancocelesti may be willing to pay, but for now, it seems as if the rumoured meeting between Tare and the Turk’s agents hasn’t taken place yet.
The 20-year-old Kökçü has impressive stats when looking at the last 365 days. The Turkish midfielder averages 6.56 progressive passes per 90, 2.83 shot-creating actions per 90 and 6.56 progressive carries per 90, displaying his attacking capabilities and potential.
In the lead-up to the summer transfer window, Tare will be desperately searching for the perfect option for the Roman club. Achieving qualification to the Champions League may be a key factor in determining the quality of player that arrives, however.