With Alessio Romagnoli heavily linked with a move to Lazio, Francesco Acerbi’s future is now increasingly far from Rome.
It has not been an easy season for the 34-year-old Italian centre-back, suffering from both on-pitch and off-pitch issues. Everything began following Maurizio Sarri’s arrival last summer and the switch to a four-man defence.
Acerbi had experience with a four-man defence from his time with Sassuolo but he failed to live up to Sarri’s expectations, and his tactical issues on the pitch were clearly having a negative impact on results.
The spark was struck in a 3-1 win over Genoa on 22nd December. The 34-year-old scored a header and whilst celebrating he decided to raise his index finger to his lips, doing the ‘shhh’ gesture. This infuriated some Lazio fans, who called for him to leave the club in the summer.
While Acerbi did apologise immediately, this did not quell the tensions and a devoted part of the fan base have still not forgiven him, consistently booing and whistling him during matches, including when he suffered a hamstring injury in a 3-3 draw with Empoli earlier this year.
As it stands, Lazio sit in seventh place in Serie A with 49 points, and it may be difficult to make football predictions about the Biancocelesti given their topsy-turvy form as of late, including a recent 3-0 loss to Roma in the Derby della Capitale.
Ahead of them in the table are Roma in sixth place with 51 points, Atalanta in fifth place with 51 points, Juventus in fourth place with 59 points, Inter in third place with 60 points, Napoli in second place with 63 points, and Milan in first place with 66 points.
As highlighted by Corriere dello Sport (via Lazio News 24), president Claudio Lotito is willing to let Acerbi leave in the upcoming summer transfer window, despite the fact that his contract expires in 2025; however, he wants an adequate offer first. This is estimated to be in the region of around €5 million.
There is a chance that Acerbi could be reunited with Simone Inzaghi at Inter, but his age and physical concerns may limit the options available to him, meaning he could simply end up on the fringes of Sarri’s project in Rome.
The former Sassuolo man has made 28 appearances across all competitions so far this season, for a total of 2357 minutes. In that time, he has scored three goals and provided two assists, helping the side keep eight clean sheets.
Acerbi was forced to miss six consecutive league matches due to a hamstring injury suffered back in January, but he has since returned to action and looked well, receiving a call up to Roberto Mancini’s Italy squad for their World Cup play-offs.