Alejandro Gomez to Lazio: A perfect fit?

Atalanta’s ascent to stardom has taken Italian football by storm this season, punching above their weight season after season. The Bergamo-based outfit has shown no signs of slowing down this year and has since qualified for the Round of 16 of the Champions League. As an intriguing matchup with Real Madrid awaits them in February, Atalanta may have to take the field against Los Galacticos without their star man, Alejandro Papu Gomez. 

The diminutive playmaker has reportedly fallen out with Gian Piero Gasperini and as a result, has been frozen out of the first team. Italian clubs have circled like vultures following the reports, with Roma, Lazio, and Milan all being linked with a move for the playmaker. Rumours quickly surfaced that Gomez would appreciate a move to Lazio, adding further fuel to the story.

In many ways, Gomez is a perfect fit for Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio. While his setup may be far more rigid than Atalanta’s free-flowing system, the Argentine playmaker is extremely familiar with the 3-5-2 formation and could slot in seamlessly alongside Ciro Immobile. Gomez has demonstrated he can be devastating alongside a more physical presence in the final third and will almost certainly strike a deadly partnership with the Italian international.

Alternatively, Inzaghi can alter his 3-5-2 to include a trequartista behind the strikers. The Italian tactician has flirted with this possibility in the past but has never used it over a sustained period of time. A front three of Gomez, Correa and Immobile could open up any rearguard and would be worth tinkering with.

Luis Alberto acts as a defacto attacking midfielder despite slotting into the midfield three and regularly looks to get forward between the lines. Gomez’s arrival would take the creative burden off the Spanish international, who is largely tasked with linking up play in the final third. Luis Alberto excelled in that position last season, registering six goals and 15 assists in 36 appearances. The former Liverpool man has since slowed down this season and is yet to record an assist. Regardless, Luis Alberto continues to create countless chances and remains an integral piece to Inzaghi’s attack.

When the 28-year-old is struggling, Lazio is not nearly as dangerous in the final third and often look toothless. Available at around 10 million euros, Gomez would be an ideal alternative to Luis Alberto’s creativity. With Gomez roaming dangerously between the lines, much of the focus would be off the Spaniard in the final third, allowing him to use his vision to hurt the opposition backline.

Gomez may be turning 33 in February, but the Atalanta man is a bonafide gamechanger. In Italy, countless players on the wrong side of 30 – notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have proven they can still contribute. If anything, Gomez has only gotten better with age and has, at the very least, another two or three productive years ahead of him. If he is available at the right price, Lazio would be foolish not to pull the trigger on a deal for him.

The Biancocelesti took Italy by storm last season, competing against Juventus for the Scudetto and qualifying for the Champions League. Should Lazio want to replicate last year’s exploits, they will need quality reinforcements. Their summer arrivals have failed to make an impact since joining, forcing Inzaghi to rely on his usual suspects despite competing on three fronts.

Lazio’s Round of 16 encounter with Bayern Munich is a tall ask for the capital-based club, but in a season unlike any other, they may just spring a surprise. Gomez could be the inspired piece of business the Biancocelesti need to get themselves over the line and into the next round alongside Europe’s elite.

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Lazio’s summer arrivals failing to make an impact

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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Luis Alberto’s barren run offers Andreas Pereira chance to make his mark at Lazio

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It’s time to address the elephant in the room: something isn’t quite right with Luis Alberto this season.

After Ciro Immobile, the Spaniard has been the most influential player for Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio in recent years.

His output has been phenomenal since he was moved into a central role in 2017/18 following a difficult debut season on the wing.

Since then, he’s scored 26 goals and provided 42 assists in 136 games for the Roman club, ranking him among European football’s most efficient creative midfielders in that period. Continue reading

Improving Inzaghi proves a point as Lazio rotate their way to eight-game unbeaten run

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If anyone deserves a bit of festive cheer, it’s Simone Inzaghi.

It’s remarkable that the Biancocelesti boss has any of those luscious locks left on his head and hasn’t torn them out in frustration by now, because even by the standards of this most unpredictable and disrupted of seasons, he’s had a rough ride.

The 44-year-old came in for some criticism when Serie A returned after lockdown last season, as his side slipped from one point off top to fourth place.

He struggled to effectively rotate his squad and manage the energy levels of his key players as Lazio’s form nosedived.

Continue reading

Lazio season preview: Will the Aquile fly again in 2020/21?

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It’s time to go again already? Well yes, and Lazio are actually arriving late to the party.

Simone Inzaghi’s men are back in action on Saturday when they hop across the Mediterranean to Sardinia to take on a Cagliari side led by former Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco.

Lazio’s delay in getting underway was down to the fact that their week one fixture with Atalanta was postponed by 10 days; La Dea were allowed some extra preparation time due to their late 2019/20 finish on Champions League duties.

Where were we?

Lazio’s 2019/20 campaign was a story of two parts: pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus. Continue reading

Breaking down Lazio’s Mercato Needs

Lazio will be making its highly anticipated return to the Champions League next season and will be eager to hit the ground running in Europe’s elite competition. Simone Inzaghi’s men surprised Italy this season, springing an unlikely title challenge, but ultimately fell short. In many ways, their lack of depth hurt them late and caused the Biancocelesti to drop unnecessary points. With Lazio competing on three fronts next year, Igli Tare and Claudio Lotito will use this summer to retool the side and offer Inzaghi more flexibility.

According to recent reports, Lazio are in the market for another striker. Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa formed a deadly duo in the final third this season, but Lazio lacked quality depth when either was out of the lineup. Felipe Caicedo finished the season with nine goals but left a lot to be desired at crucial moments while Bobby Adenkanye failed to break through Inzaghi’s starting eleven.

Lazio have since been linked with former Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral. In recent times, however, Fenerbahce’s Vedat Muriqi has emerged as the favorite up front. The Kosovo international will reportedly join Lazio for 18 million euros and will give Inzaghi some much-needed depth.

Beyond Muriqi, Lazio are closing in on SPAL’s Mohamed Fares for the left wingback role. Jony struggled to make an impact when called upon while Senad Lulic is beginning to slow down out wide. As a result, reinforcements are needed to offer Lazio some width and pace in the wide areas. Jordan Lukaku never got going in Inzaghi’s system and could very well be on his way out this summer. Fares is already familiar with Serie A and was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for SPAL. At eight million euros, Fares could offer Lazio great value, similarly to Manuel Lazzari down the right-hand side.

While Fares and Muriqi offer depth and will largely be used in rotation, Lazio have set their sights on a huge free agent signing. Manchester City’s David Silva is reportedly heavily considering moving to the nation’s capital and joining forces with his compatriot Luis Alberto in the middle of the park. The duo will undoubtedly form one of the league’s most creative midfield units and will thrive supplying Immobile and Correa.

Silva may be approaching 35 years old, but the Spaniard could offer Lazio another season or two at the highest level. Lazio struggled to break sides down towards the tail end of the season and could benefit from Silva’s presence in their lineup. The former Valencia man, however, is currently weighing an offer from Qatar and will give Lazio his final answer shortly. In any case, Silva would be a major coup for Tare and would offer the side a wealth of experience going into the Champions League.

Fares, Muriqi, and Silva would represent a phenomenal summer for Lazio, but if Inzaghi’s men want to take the next step, they arguably need another centreback. Francesco Acerbi, Luis Felipe, and Stefan Radu formed an uncompromising trio at the back this season, but they could benefit from an injection of youth.

The Biancocelesti were previously linked to Hellas Verona’s Marash Kumbulla, but the defender is now Inter bound. In many ways, the Verona man is an ideal profile for Lazio and would have refreshed their rearguard. Beyond Kumbulla, Lazio could inquire about Juventus wantaway Daniele Rugani. The former Empoli man desperately needs a move away and could rekindle his best form away from Juve. In any case, another defender would help reduce Acerbi’s workload significantly and tighten up their back three ahead of Thomas Strakosha.

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Lazio’s 2019/20 end of season report card

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What a year it’s been for Lazio. The 2019/20 season will never be forgotten due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but for Aquile fans a whirlwind league campaign and long-awaited return to the Champions League will stick in the memory too.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to grade the efforts of the capital club.

The Serie A campaign: A-

A bitterly disappointing season finale is still fresh in the memory. Lazio were a shadow of their former selves when they returned from the three-month break and fell from one point off the Serie A summit to fourth place. Continue reading

No defence for Lazio defence after Lecce horror show

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Tuesday night’s defeat in Lecce was a startling wake-up call to the scale of Lazio’s decline since football restarted. 

Defeats to Atalanta and Milan had sandwiched comeback wins against Fiorentina and Torino ahead of the capital club’s trip to the deep south of Italy.

There were already plenty of concerns over the team’s performances before they travelled to Puglia, but there were also convenient ways of excusing the two previous losses.

The trip to Atalanta, a 3-2 defeat, was Lazio’s first game back, while the hosts had already got a game under their belt. Continue reading

How might Lazio solve their striker emergency against AC Milan?

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The phrase ‘selection headache’ gets thrown around a lot in football journalism.

But it wouldn’t be a great surprise if the puzzle facing Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi on Saturday has had him reaching for the paracetamol.

The capital club came from behind to win for the second game in a row against Torino on Tuesday night, a result that kept Serie A leaders Juventus just four points away.

But their efforts came at a price, as strike partners Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo picked up bookings that ruled them out of Saturday’s clash with AC Milan at the Stadio Olimpico through suspension. Continue reading

Depleted Lazio need fringe players to step up in season finale

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Lazio were late to the party. By the time they stepped onto the pitch in Bergamo on Wednesday evening, every Serie A side bar the two Roman clubs had experienced their first taste of post-lockdown football. 

Nervous biancocelesti fans were aware that a win was required to maintain a one-point gap to leaders Juventus, and that victory wouldn’t be easily obtained against a free-scoring Atalanta side that battered Sassuolo 4-1 on their return. Continue reading