Around European football these days we seem to find ourselves looking at a plenty of 'fallen giants' such as Villarreal, Werder Bremen and S.S Lazio. Having won Serie A in 2000 under the stewardship of Sven-Goran Eriksson, Lazio seemed to be destined for a bright future boasting players such as Pavel Nedved, Dejan Stankovic and Diego Simeone to name a few. Since then the Biancocelesti have been on a downward slide, much of that owing to financial trouble, but their large stadium and incredible fanbase have seen them maintain their status in Serie A. Over the past 3 years, Lazio have proved themselves to be a solid Europa league team, whilst the league itself has been subject to turmoil and the two scommesopoli and calciopoli match fixing scandals. This summer however, seems to show that this side now has the prowess to return to the top table of European football and make the jump into the champions league.
For years, under previous boss Eduardo Reja, Lazio did well but seemingly not quite well enough to just make that jump to join Europe's elite. When the squad is observed it is fairly clear to see why. Whilst the squad does have the likes of Brazilian international Hernanes, German legend Miroslav Klose and the up and coming Stefan Radu, the club is also full of players incapable of playing consistently at the highest level. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the club's recent transfer policy, or at least until this year. Signing players with promise that haven't developed or just 6/10 players that put in a good performance each week but never anything outstanding. Chief names among these would include Abdoulaye Konko and Ederson from last summer who have not really impressed during their time at the club.
This transfer window this year appeared to be following historical fashion with the acquisition of little known Bryan Perea upfront and the seemingly inexplicable sale of towering centre-half Modibo Diakite to Paulo Di Canio's Sunderland. Added to this, previously prolific striker Mauro Zarate was also sold due to a disagreement with the board. However the tide now appears to have turned, with the board backing new boss Vladimir Petkovic in the transfer market. The club have made 3 notable signings this summer, which could help catapult such a huge club back to the big time.
Firstly, the club have signed Lucas Biglia from RSC Anderlecht. The Argentine adds to the large South American contingent already at the club and should provide an assured, classy playmaker to the central midfield, allowing Hernanes to push a little further up the pitch, enabling him to showcase his flair and finishing talents. It can't be forgotten that this player was strongly linked with Arsenal in the past and so the eagles will be hoping they've captured a real gem of a player.
Joining him at Stadio Olimpico this summer, is his Argentine compatriot Diego Novaretti. A rumored target for Roberto Mancini in his final days at Manchester City, the 28 year old promises to bring steel and a never-say-die attitude to Petkovic's set up. The worry for fans however, may be that coming on a free transfer from Mexican sign Toluca, Novaretti will not be able to handle the step up to the European big leagues, although they can find solace in the examples of Javier Hernandez and Andres Guardardo.
The last major signing though, is somewhat of a wildcard. Young Brazilian attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson, has finally joined Lazio after a long transfer saga. He promises much with an eye for a killer ball and direct dribbling skills, though perhaps he needs more time to bed in, being half way across the world at the age of 20. Either way, for just shy of £8 million, Lazio will hope this investment in the future can start paying dividends as soon as possible.
It seems then with these additions that S.S Lazio will attempt to get back to where they feel they should be. The factor that could derail all of this, is that club captain Stefano Mauri's six month ban on match fixing charges, confirmed today, could overshadow the club's season. Using their unorthodox but effective formation, they should be able to displace some of Serie A's traditional giants or at least keep pace with the rising powers of Napoli and bitter rivals Roma.