Lazio recently made their first official signing under new manager Maurizio Sarri. Free-agent Elseid Hysaj joined the Biancocelesti following a six-year spell with Napoli and will be reuniting with his previous manager in Rome.
What was Hysaj like during his six seasons with Napoli? Do you believe Sarri’s departure two seasons ago had an impact on his career?
Hysaj was very dependable and reliable, particularly in his early years at Napoli. He had big shoes to fill, replacing Cristian Maggio at right-back, but he filled them well. His better years coincided with Sarri’s time at Napoli, and the quality of his play certainly declined after Sarri’s departure, but it’s hard to say if that was caused by Sarri’s departure. We signed Giovanni Di Lorenzo in 2019, and with Hysaj’s form declining, he lost his position to Di Lorenzo.
What was your initial reaction when Lazio decided to sign Hysaj? Do you believe reuniting with Sarri will benefit him this season?
Following Napoli, I wasn’t surprised to see him leave. Hysaj and his agent Mario Giuffredi flip-flopped between wanting to stay and wanting to go before ultimately deciding to leave. Hysaj wanted to join a bigger club but those offers never came. Lazio makes sense because he has reunited with Maurizio Sarri, who favoured the full-back in their time together at Napoli.
What expectations should Lazio fans have for Hysaj’s debut season in Rome?
I’m curious to see if a reunion with Sarri can rejuvenate Hysaj. I think he’ll benefit from being a regular starting again, particularly at right-back, which is his natural position. That consistency could restore his confidence and therefore improve his play.
Lazio have an abundance of players on the right side… What position do you expect Hysaj to play this season with Lazio? What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Hysaj is best suited to play at right-back, but he showed in his last two seasons at Napoli that he can also play at left-back. That flexibility is one of his strengths. The modern fullback needs to be able to get forward, and Hysaj is certainly capable of that. He has the pace and ball control skills to do so. Unfortunately, he has become a defensive liability. He has a tendency to make poor decisions and can sometimes make costly errors, either by getting beat in dangerous areas or by committing fouls in the area.