Sunday Apr 30, 2017  
     
 
  10/08/2014: A look at Lazio's future prospects
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Lazio’s pre-season has started promisingly and there’s an air of genuine enthusiasm about the club that has been lacking for some time. Part of the positivity is being generated by a group of exciting young upstarts who are threatening to shake up the status quo and make an impact with the first team. Today we preview their fortunes for the year ahead.

DANILO CATALDI

Why we should be getting excited:

It’s been a long time since a Roman-born and raised Lazio fan was breaking into the side. Not since Lorenzo de Silvestri departed in 2010 has a local product threatened to do so. Cataldi is still only 19 - an age at which our ‘up-and-comers’ are still usually languishing in the primavera or heading out on ill-fated loan spells. By contrast, Cataldi is coming off a full season in Serie B with Crotone

Word of caution:

Cataldi plays in the centre of the park and this is where Lazio is deeper than an Olympic diving pool. Marco Parolo, Ogenyi Onazi and el Tata González will all be vying for space and that’s before taking into account the possibility of Biglia and Ledesma playing together and Lulić or Mauri dropping into the central three.

If he is going to enjoy some extended action, Cataldi will need to grab games by the throat when Pioli sends him on and he must also work harder than the rest during the week.

FELIPE ANDERSON

Why we should be getting excited:

Felipe has enjoyed a healthy pre-season. In a relaxed environment, he is showing off how he can use his technical class – which is close to the best of everyone at the club – to great effect. No longer the new shiny arrival, if the spotlight is elsewhere this season rather than squarely on his 21-year old shoulders, Felipe Anderson could finally find his mojo and become a creative outlet for a side which has been craving more imagination and improved execution going forward. He has the tools others don’t, this year he might also find the mindset.

Word of caution:

The spotlight might shine elsewhere but the price tag and its associated pressure aren’t going away. Felipe has been burdened with the expectation of being the 9 million euro man since he arrived and Lazio fans are notoriously demanding. If he doesn’t cope with the expectation, he won’t play and from there, things will look difficult for both him and the club.

KEITA BALDE DIAO

Why we should be getting excited:

2013/14. For Lazio it was incredibly poor and this is why, for Keita, it was so good. Was handed his chance in a side that had no ideas in the front third and showed poise, strength and execution that belied his age. A superb goal against Napoli had his name up in lights. Few 18 year olds have performed in Serie A to the standard that Keita has.

Word of caution:

The second season is almost always more difficult than the first, particularly if a player has been labelled a ‘crack.’ Keita won’t be a surprise anymore and he will be expected to produce quality week in-week out where he wasn’t before. The season will test his mental strength and maturity.

MAMADOU TOUNKARA

Why we should be getting excited:

Almost made to miss out on the senior pre-season, Tounkara didn’t waste his chance to show the coaching staff why that was a bad idea. Super finishes from the moment he arrived at camp have staked his claim for more first team action this year. Everyone knows he is capable in front of goal and he does too. A last minute equaliser against Sporting in Portugal demonstrated his ability to finish chances with ice cold execution under pressure. Has the potential to become the explosion of the season, should he find himself on the park.

Word of caution:

He may not find himself on the park often enough. Klose will be ahead of him in the pecking order, as will Filip Djordjević. With only one central striker in the system, he’ll need to wait for a teammate to get injured. His early form and Perea’s own misfortune will probably give him a slight edge on the Colombian to begin with but he will need to score goals when he does play to avoid falling behind. Pioli will also be assessing his attitude. For a guy who was anointed by Samuel Eto’o and then let go by Barcelona for disciplinary reasons, he must appreciate this is a precious second chance that he cannot afford to waste.

JOSEPH MINALA

Why we should be getting excited:

Seemingly came from nowhere to become a first team option toward the tail end of last season, having impressed everyone from Simone Inzaghi to the famously hard-to-impress Edy Reja. When you consider he was under ridiculous pressure for a 17-year-old amid allegations he faked his age to racism rows, and totally without an extensive support network being in a foreign country, his breakthrough seems even more impressive.

Word of caution:

The strong competition in the centre of the park will make it tough for him to find space and may even see him sent on loan. An alleged reaction to abuse was given as the reason for his initial exclusion from the camp at Auronzo di Cadore, meaning he either has a short fuse or a less-than-perfect relationship with the management.

LORENZO FILIPPINI

Why we should be getting excited:

The fact he was picked to travel with the squad to the camp in Germany while other primavera players were sent back to Formello shows the coaching staff consider him ready for first team football. Given our limits at the back, he is coming through at the right time as a chance to prove himself in Serie A isn’t out of the question.

Word of caution:

Filippini is still very green – 19 years old with no senior experience – and there’s the possibility he will find himself on loan in Serie B by the time the season starts. If he does stay, don’t expect to see him too much as his preferred left back role is fairly well covered.

CHRIS OIKONOMIDIS

Why we should be getting excited:

Found himself enjoying a purple patch at the business end of the primavera campaign last season and bagged himself some goals in big games. Picked up from where he left off as he headed to Auronzo di Cadore with the senior squad and rippled the net a couple of times when used as an attacking option, before returning to the primavera. The Australian is known for his positive attitude at an age when the mental side of the game can prove the undoing of promising talent.

Word of caution:

No European football and plenty of depth probably means the best he can hope for is a brief Serie A debut and a cameo appearance or two. The gap between primavera football and the real thing is enormous and a loan stint in Serie B or at Salernitana is more probable than an explosion at Lazio.

Author: Christopher Testa
 
 
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