Management in charge of a club that are having a mid-season crisis often uses the winter transfer window as a tool to make some changes to the squad in hopes of reviving the season. The dissenti situation involving Goran Pandev and Cristian Ledesma was cited as one of the main reasons for Lazio’s wretched season till now. Changes were expected to be made in the January transfer window, but it seems the rumor mill surrounding Lazio is more prolific than the management.
The curtain has been brought down on Pandev’s situation. On Dec 23, Lega Calcio – Serie A’s governing body – ordered Lazio to release Pandev for free. On top of that, the Aquile were ordered to pay £140,000 to the Macedonian forward towards legal costs and punitive damage for incurring emotional distress. As if freezing an important player on payroll out of the squad wasn’t enough, the club has now failed to capitalize on his departure. On any other day, Pandev could have fetched an amount in the region of £10m, whereas Inter captured him free of cost. Moreover, he has had a good start to his Nerazzurri career, featuring in all three games since he joined. Pandev has spent no time in adding fuel to fire by suggesting his former teammates Aleksandar Kolarov and Ledesma that they join Inter. There is no reason why Ledesma cannot follow in Pandev’s footsteps and force his way out of the club. He has already presented his case to Lega Calcio and has attracted attention from bigwigs like Inter and Juventus. Claudio Lotito should probably set his ego aside and cash in on whatever amount Lazio can get from Ledesma’s sale.
Mauro Zarate might have alienated himself from the management by openly supporting Pandev and Ledesma just days before the former’s departure. After the 4-1 victory over Livorno, Coach Davide Ballardini blasted Zarate in the media, criticizing the striker for his attitude on the pitch. A few days later, Ballardini gave a statement refusing to withdraw the remarks about Zarate. Soon enough, there were dozens of reports linking the Argentine to various clubs, with Arsenal leading the pack. Recently, ‘Maurito’ has pledged his allegiance to the Biancocelesti by making a rather bold statement saying he will never leave Lazio. However, there is no doubt that Zarate’s situation at the club is dodgy.
Kolarov has been a relatively bright spot for the Aquile this season. He is reportedly pushing for higher wages through his agent Sergio Berti. There is is already plenty of interest in Kolarov from teams such as Inter and Real Madrid. Lazio certainly don’t want to see one of their better performers leave Rome. Defender Emilson Cribari left Lazio for Siena on a six-month loan spell with an option to make the move permanent at the season end. Cribari spent no time in expressing his dissatisfaction at the treatment he received at Lazio. According to him, he was never respected even after giving a lot to the Biancocelesti. All this unrest will almost certainly have a negative impact on image of the club.
Argentine striker Maxi Lopez was linked with the Biancocelesti for quite some time. But in the end, he chose relegation battlers Catania. However, Lazio did make a positive move this winter by signing Sergio Floccari on a loan move, with option to capture him permanently at the end of season for £8.3m. The striker is a capable solution to Lazio’s goal-scoring problems and has already scored three goals from opening two games.
Lazio have an unnecessarily huge squad. They have a total of 35 players in their first squad. Every transfer window is an opportunity to remove dead weight, revitalize the group and make some money, but instead the management is apparently ruining the course with their personal egos. Lotito and Ballardini don’t seem to be making any effort to bridge the rift between them and the players.
The Biancocelesti have no chance of making it into Europe next year. They crashed out of the Coppa Italia after losing to Fiorentina in the Quarter Finals, and the only remaining target this season is to avoid relegation. Their next encounter is against Chievo Verona in front of a hostile crowd at Stadio Olimpico. The fans will enter Curva Nord 15 minutes late as a mark of protest against the current management. To compound problems, Floccari is out for a month thanks to an injury and Stefan Radu won’t be available either. On the other hand, the Flying Donkeys are on a sky-high confidence after defeating Juventus last week. It will be interesting to observe the mentality of both set of players during the match.