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|Serie A Special: What do Lazio need to improve next season?|
With the Serie A season complete and the summer transfer season about to heat up, SoccerAnchor has decided to play Technical Director and believes Lazio need to bring in certain players in order to improve on the past campaign's results. Amlan Majumdar explains...
Lazio, despite their convincing victory against Inter in the final match of the season, didn’t manage to qualify for the Champions League as Udinese won their match against Catania and finished third.
Logically, this hasn’t been a disappointing season for Biancocelesti. They have finished fourth, there highest in the last five seasons and when one adds to the fact that they also managed to do a double over Roma it calls for jubilations. But the Lazio fans are historically hard to satisfy, and this time though they have justifiable reasons to feel that they could have done much better. In fact even Edy Reja would concur.
Lazio at one point this season were leading the table, in fact they were brilliant in the first half of the season. Tough they were not considered as serious title contenders, Lazio were expected to qualify for Champions league next season. The problem started after a calamitous January transfer window. They sold five players including key players like Guglielmo Stendardo and Djibril Cissé, and only one player was signed Antonio Candreva on loan from Cesena! The deal for Keisuke Honda, who supposed to be the big name signing the board has talked about, collapsed at the very end.
Edy Reja and the fans were clearly disappointed with the Board and as a result the winter transfer window was followed by unrest within the team, conflict between Reja and the board members, fans’ losing their faith and most significantly – the team’s performance on the field was on a decline. The thin squad that Reja had at his disposal was exposed as Lazio was affected by a series of Injury crisis.
Reja on his part, did his best with the resources at his disposal. Though at times his team selection was criticized, the fact that Lazio has managed to improve on their standing from last season despite such chaos within the club, speaks volumes of Reja’s managerial abilities.
Lotito has already come out and said that they are looking to buy 4-5 new players next season. Here is a look at the signings they need to make.
MUST: RETAIN EDY REJA
To begin with what Lazio needs to do to improve next season, one need not look beyond retaining Edy Reja. The future of the Italian at the club has been in doubts for a long time. His relationship with the board is acrimonious to say the least. He has already had resignation rejected by the management, it looks highly unlikely that he will continue in his post the next season. But Lotito must put his ego and pride aside, and try to persuade Reja to carry on at Lazio.
Reja has been brilliant since he has taken over from Davide Ballardini nearly two and a half years ago. The team at that time was fighting relegation and this season they were just whiskers away from qualifying for champions league. But the key to retaining Reja is to give him more authority in transfer dealings. In the winter he was left frustrated as the reinforcement he asked for – namely Sampdoria’s Angelo Palombo and Juventus’s Milos Krasic, were not entertained.
Rumors in Italian media has it that Lotito is already looking for replacements and have lined up former Biancazzurri player Roberto Di Matteo as his successor. Matteo many believe might not land the job at Chelsea permanently despite winning the FA cup and reaching the Champions league final. But losing Reja might be a bigger blow than what Lotito and Tare are prevising. If given the freedom, he is the right man to take Lazio forward.
MUST: PURCHASE A FORWARD
The Whole Lazio squad has looked thin due the injuries this season, but Reja had very confined options when it came to strikers. Miroslav Klose’s injury, combined with the fact that Giuseppe Sculli and Djibril Cissé were sold left Lazio in a precarious position at the end of the season. Klose, though he has been immense, is not getting any younger and would need able replacement in the squad.
A host of strikers has already been linked with Biancocelesti. Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov, who is destined to leave old Trafford next season, is the latest high profile name to be linked with a move to Rome. Earlier, players like Genoa’s 21 year old striker Mattia Destro, River Plate’s 20 year old Rogelio Funes Mori and Inter’s Giampaolo Pazzini have been linked with a move.
Pazzini out of these looks the most viable option available. Reportedly talks have already been held between the player and the club president.
MUST: PURCHASE TWO MIDFIELDERS
This will depend mostly on what the future holds for Hernanes. Lots of European clubs are interested in the attacking midfielder and though Igli Tare has come out and said that Hernanes will stay, Lazio must look for a back-up or two.
Brazilian playmaking midfielder Ederson Honorato Campos is already believed to be on his way to Lazio, his agent has said “Lazio have got the lead on the negotiations for signing him, but there are more solutions possible, except him staying at O.L.”
Tranquillo Barnetta and Milos Krasic are other two options Lazio are believed to be looking at. It would also be interesting to see if they reopen talks with CSKA Moscow regarding Japanese start Keisuke Honda.
All in all, expect a busy summer at Rome.