Friday Jul 31, 2015  
  13/01/2012: Morning Coffee with... Alasdair
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Another January, another mercato. However, this one seems more charged than any in recent memory. With plentiful injury problems, no creativity and a one man strike force, reinforcements are needed now more than ever if the biancoceleste are to have any hope of claiming a European place. Calls for Reja’s head have resumed after a disastrous four-nil drubbing in Tuscany to relegation candidates Siena, which emphatically ended the unbeaten away record that had been keeping laziale content so far. With Mauri, Brocchi and now Cana out, Hernanes having niggles and Matuzalem generally rather injury-prone, the midfield has been the cause of much speculation. The two leading names at this point seem to be those of Marco Parolo and Zdravko Kuzmanovic, so I have taken some time to weigh up these two options.

Interest in Parolo is nothing new, as it seemed almost unbelievable that he stayed at Cesena over the summer after an impressive debut Serie A season. Lazio attempted to open negotiations, but failed to get their man. Reja has been outspoken in his appreciation of Parolo, describing him as a ‘complete player, with good stamina, technique and shooting ability’. He is also the kind of player who could slot into our three man midfield system effortlessly, as well as offering a welcome alternative to Hernanes behind the strikers. The only problem is a hefty price tag of 9 million euro, which Cesena will be fairly stubborn about. Six points adrift of safety, it is unlikely that they will let their star man leave halfway through the season unless offered a substantial sum. Normally patience would seem the obvious move here as, realistically, Cesena are likely to be relegated which would allow Parolo to join us in the summer with a reduced price tag. However, he does have all the qualities our midfield is so sorely lacking, and this may well push Lotito into an uncharacteristically pricey swoop. Libor Kozak and Javier Garrido have been suggested as possible bargaining chips, but negotiations could very well end in stalemate.

Another name persistently linked to the club, Zdravko Kuzmanovic will be familiar to some followers of Serie A after spending over two seasons at Fiorentina, a period he obviously enjoyed as he has expressed his desire to return to the peninsula. Currently at Stuttgart, the Serb is still only 24 years old, 3 years younger than Parolo. Lotito travelled to Germany in December to set up a meeting with Marko Naletilic, the attorney in charge of Kuzmanovic who also oversaw Cisse’s move from Panathinaikos in the summer. Valued at around 6/7 million euro, he is also a cheaper option. This is all very well but in my opinion the main problem is simply that he isn’t as good. He would, like Parolo, fit comfortably into a midfield three but he isn’t the same kind of player and this is one of the major worries when reading about the supposed choice Lazio have to make between the two. Kuzmanovic would be an excellent choice as a Brocchi-like ball winning midfielder, comfortable on the ball but used mainly as a holding midfielder. With only three goals in his 70 appearances for La Viola, he never made an impression as an attacking force in Serie A, whereas Parolo bagged five goals last season alone. However, Kuzmanovic did manage an impressive nine in the Bundesliga last season so he may have developed into a goalscoring threat in the last couple of seasons as he matures as a footballer.

I would love to see both these players at the club, but if it was a choice between one or the other, I would opt for Parolo. He seems the ideal candidate given his experience in Italian football and determination to succeed on a bigger stage. All we can do now is wait and see how deep Lotito is willing to go into his pockets, but with three important Serie A fixtures coming before deadline day, time is of the essence.

(Alasdair Mackenzie)
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