Lazio, in search of a reserve forward, has zeroed in on Benevento’s Gianluca Lapadula in recent weeks. The striker is a Serie A veteran and has netted an impressive 124 goals throughout his career.
Lapadula surprisingly remained with Benevento after the club was relegated last season. The decision has paid off, as he has recorded ten goals and four assists in just over 1,000 minutes. In a fiercely competitive Serie B, the Peruvian’s play has been crucial to his side’s race for promotion.
Despite nearing the age of 32, Lapadula’s speed and quickness is his most effective attribute. He uses his pace to play tight against opposing backlines, and he frequently makes diagonal runs to exploit space in the attacking third.
Also armed with strong technical abilities, Lapadula is comparable to a more prolific Kevin Lasagna. His speed and creativity make him a fairly versatile forward, being able to play as a second striker, winger, or even as a number ten.
For all his benefits, the marksman’s pace can lead to trouble, however. Lapadula struggles with watching his line, being called for a remarkable 1.41 offsides per 90 minutes, over double the average for strikers. Other flaws in the striker’s game include subpar distribution, low overall involvement in play and questionable work rate when pressing.
So how does Lapadula fit into Maurizio Sarri’s midseason plan?
The club’s focus for the transfer window is unquestionably to improve its defense, but additional attacking depth is critical as well.
Fortunately for the Biancocelesti, Lapadula is playing in a similar 4-3-3 system under Fabio Caserta at Benevento. Their wingers look to frequently rotate and cut inside, while their full-backs have significant responsibilities in the channels out wide. This strategy gives Lapadula freedom to drop into the midfield or move from defender-to-defender, looking to find holes in the backline.
It is not difficult to envision Lapadula finding success in Rome as a substitute for Ciro Immobile. His pace would perfectly complement Felipe Anderson and Pedro on the line of three forwards. With the constant rotational play of the Spaniard and the speed of his cohort, this trio could become a menacing three-headed monster that drags defenders out of position and attacks with ease.
Lazio’s formidable midfield talent could also positively influence the forward. With Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto providing quality distribution, Lapadula could concentrate on making runs and rely on accurate, timely through-balls or long passes over the top.
Gianluca Lapadula is the perfect option to improve Lazio’s depth ahead of their challenging second-half. Likely arriving on a half-season loan, he would need to provide relief from the bench and help the Romans survive the Coppa Italia, Europa League and domestic play.
While Lapadula may not be a long-term answer, he would be an effective one in the short term.