On Deadline Day, Lazio finally made a move in the transfer market, acquiring forward Jovane Cabral on loan from Sporting CP.
After missing out on their primary target in Atalanta’s Aleksei Miranchuk, the Biancocelesti front office set its sights on the 23-year-old as a last-ditch option. The striker was signed for €1 million, and the Roman side have the option to make the move permanent for €8 million in the Summer.
Similar to Miranchuk, Cabral is a versatile attacker. He can slot in as a number ten or play on the wings, but his preferred role is playing as a striker. So far this season, he has recorded one goal and one assist in 400 minutes in the UEFA Champions League and the Portuguese top flight.
Playing in Sporting’s Dutch style of football, Cabral has shown incredible spatial awareness. He looks to drop into the midfield when needed, finding pockets of space between opposing players. He makes frequent diagonal runs against the backline and has a good eye for which areas of the pitch are the most opportune. His speed and intelligence allow him to stay one step ahead of defenders.
In terms of style of play, the Portuguese man would be a fit with Sarri’s tactics. He is generally not bound to one role on the pitch and has shown a high work rate when pressing. If replacing Luis Alberto, for example, he could either support the midfield or push up high as a second striker.
However, there are several questions about Cabral.
After just six matches, he lost his starting position and was relegated to the bench. He also had several poor showings in the Champions League against Besiktas, Ajax and Dortmund. These performances are worrying and suggest that he may not be ready for Serie A.
The winger also has a tendency to disappear from matches. Against Ajax, he played for 45 minutes, but he only managed ten touches in that time and was subsequently removed.
Cabral is also dispossessed far too frequently in the midfield. When attempting to hold play up, he is not strong enough on the ball, which led to three turnovers in 19 minutes against Besiktas.
Lastly, injuries are also a concern for Cabral, who has already missed several matches this season with Sporting. Despite being just 23, he has been injured for 45 matches in his three and a half years playing professional football.
Ultimately, Cabral is a talented prospect who could develop into a reliable player with proper training. However, it seems dubious that he will greatly improve Lazio’s bench for the remainder of the season.
Perhaps this move shows the desperation of the front office. The winter transfer window was a failure for the Biancocelesti, who were in dire need of offensive depth and defensive reinforcements.
The club’s miss on Russian star Miranchuk appears to have caused this emergency signing, and whether Cabral will improve the team is unclear.