For the past few seasons, finding a quality backup option to Lazio starting midfielder Luis Alberto has proven to be a difficult task. The Spaniard has been heavily relied upon to lead their attack in the midfield and has never had a proper backup to support him; he has played over 35 games per season across all competitions since becoming a regular under Simone Inzaghi in the 2017/18 campaign.
In the 2021 Summer Transfer Window, Lazio signed Toma Basic from Ligue 1 side Bordeaux to address the aforementioned issue. The Croatian had caught the eye of numerous clubs in Europe due to his vision and calmness when in possession, but in the end, he opted to move to Rome to join the Biancocelesti.
Lazio manager Maurizio Sarri reportedly requested management to sign Basic as he saw him as a player who would have fit well in his tactics and could contribute in an effective way. However, as Basic had spent the past three seasons in the French top flight, the manager knew that he needed time to progress, learn and adapt to life in Italy, which he stated in an interview at the beginning of the season.
It is clear that Sarri has a good idea of how he plans to use Basic this season and beyond, and that is as a number ten. The midfielder will slowly work his way into the lineup as he becomes more familiar and gets a better understanding of the league, however, does the position suit the Croatian?
Toma Basic’s Skillset & Syle of Play
Back in May 2019, Basic gave a concise breakdown of how he prefers to play to The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports. He stated that he “prefers to play for offensive” because he “wants to score” but that he is also happy to “play in a deeper position to create something from the back.”
Before joining Lazio, Basic played as an attacking midfielder and was involved heavily in Bordeaux’s build-up plays. He was a versatile player who could play as a right or left central midfielder, as well as a defensive midfielder, and was comfortable on the ball with both his strong foot (left) and weak foot (right) which made him extremely useful.
As seen since joining Lazio, Basic prefers to work in several areas of the midfield where he is able to assist in the build-up of the game and play higher up the pitch. He has shown the ability to position himself directly between the lines or stay as wide as a possible passing solution for his teammates, using his body effectively to allow him to protect the ball from his opponents.
Furthermore, Basic is a creative number ten who has shown to have good composure and has the ability to complete passes into dangerous areas. The Croatian has the capability to improve the overall match which comes directly from his passing. In his last season with Bordeaux, he averaged 2.80 progressive passes per game and one key pass per game.
Along with his offense, Basic’s defensive game is well-rounded as he has good size and is a physical player. He has good strength and has shown the ability to be a positional player versus his opponent. In his last season with Bordeaux, the Croatian averaged 0.93 aerial duels won and 0.76 tackles won per 90 minutes. In addition, he averaged 6.71 ball recoveries per match and 0.80 interceptions. He has a good read for the game which allows him to anticipate when his opponent will make a pass and knows when to attempt an interception.
Basic has come a long way in advancing his game and has clearly taken it to another level which allowed him to make the jump to join Lazio. While it still remains to be seen how it will work out for him Rome, Toma Basic has all the qualities and tools to become a proper number ten if given the chance to thrive, and with patience and in due time, he could be an adequate replacement for Luis Alberto for the foreseeable future.