Lazio was extremely proactive this past summer as the Biancocelesti looked to make a successful return to the Champions League. The capital-based club added some much-needed depth up front, securing Vedat Muriqi from Fenerbache, while Mohamed Fares made the move from the relegated SPAL.
Simone Inzaghi’s men bolstered their defensive options as well, bringing back Wesley Hoedt from Southampton. Pepe Reina, Gonzalo Escalante, and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro joined on free transfers while Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira arrived on a loan deal. While Pepe Reina has impressed since making the move, competing with Thomas Strakosha for the number one role, a majority of Lazio’s summer arrivals have failed to hit the ground running.
As a result, Lazio has struggled for consistency in league play and currently sit in eighth place with five defeats already. The Biancocelesti may have punched their ticket into the Round of 16 of the Champions League, but have since been drawn with the reigning champions Bayern Munich. The Bavarian giants have shown no signs of slowing down this season, indicating Lazio’s European adventure may come to an end sooner rather than later.
If Inzaghi’s men want to qualify for Europe’s elite competition two years in a row, they will need to turn it around heading into the new year. A large part of their struggles has boiled down to their new signings’ inability to integrate into the first team.
Muriqi has struggled to adapt to Italian football and has looked off the pace since making the move. The Albanian international is yet to find the back of the net in his 10 appearances thus far, cutting a frustrated figure in the final third. Ciro Immobile, Joaquin Correa, and Felipe Caicedo is a talented offensive core, however, as Lazio looks to compete on three fronts, the Biancocelesti will be hoping Muriqi can put his offensive woes behind him.
Beyond his struggles finding the back of the net, the former Fenerbache man regularly disappears in games and fails to offer an imposing penalty box presence. Lazio will have expected far more from their marquee signing after spending over 20 million euros to bring him in.
Fares is another one of Lazio’s signings that is yet to carve out an important role for himself. The Algerian established himself as one of the Serie A’s two-way wingbacks with SPAL, bombing down the left wing at will. Much like Muriqi, however, the move to Lazio appears to be a step too far for him, failing to reach his former heights.
Adam Marusic has since overtaken him in the starting lineup, with Fares largely featuring off the bench. When the 24-year-old does feature, his end product leaves a lot to be desired, registering just one assist in 13 appearances in all competitions. Fares appeared to be an ideal reinforcement given his comfort in a similar setup but has since failed to assert himself in the nation’s capital.
Andreas Pereira, on the other hand, has impressed when called upon but has rarely featured from the start. The Brazilian has made 14 appearances for Lazio this season with only two of them coming as a starter. Lazio possesses a 27 million euro option to make his move a permanent one, but if Andreas Pereira remains on the outskirts of the first team, it is unlikely the option will be triggered.
Hoedt and Reina are arguably the two exceptions to the rule, with both offering Inzaghi some depth at the back. The Spanish shot-stopper has established himself as Lazio’s number one in the early goings of the season, while Hoedt has slotted in seamlessly in his second stint with the club.
Despite their impressive performances, Lazio’s summer business has largely failed to address their squad’s needs. Fares, Muriqi, and Andreas Pereira all added depth in key positions, but they have all been unable to become crucial pieces to Inzaghi’s setup. As the season wears on, the Italian tactician will be hoping his summer arrivals can turn their fortunes around and demonstrate why Lazio was so eager to bring them in. Otherwise, the Biancocelesti risk missing out on European football altogether.
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