Lazio supporters can adopt a weathered, downtrodden look at this time of year. The final few days of January tend to be like a Roman version of ‘Groundhog Day’, as fans keep waking up to the same thing over and over again.
Supposed transfer targets fill the papers every day – in the last few days Jonathan Rowe, Jack Clarke, Federico Bernardeschi and Nicolo Cambiaghi are among the names to be linked with the Biancocelesti – but nothing ever happens.
History tells laziali to never get too hopeful of an imminent season-changing coup during the mid-season window. Claudio Lotito doesn’t like to do business in the winter.
Underwhelming Lazio signings
Let’s take the last five years as a sample. In that period, Lazio have had sealed loan deals for Luca Pellegrini, Jovane Cabral and Romulo and brought in Mateo Musacchio from AC Milan. That’s it.
You can understand the scepticism around recent rumours, then.
The thing is, Lazio have rarely been in a situation where it makes more sense to splash some cash in January than right now. Matchday 22‘s drab 0-0 draw with Napoli was just the latest reminder of this team’s chronic problem when it comes to creating and converting chances.
Why can’t Lazio score?
It has been a season-long issue and their return of 24 goals in 21 games ranks 11th in Serie A.
There have been several factors at play when it comes to why. Ciro Immobile, Felipe Anderson, Mattia Zaccagni and Luis Alberto, who provided the bulk of the goals in last season’s surprise run to second place, have dipped in form this term, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s influence has been badly missed.
The new faces brought in to try and replace the Serbian’s goals and assists, such as Daichi Kamada, Gustav Isaksen and Taty Castellanos, have struggled to adapt quickly in their debut campaigns in Italy.
Success is achievable for Lazio
However, Lazio’s blunt attack hasn’t scuppered their season. Far from it.
With a Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich around the corner, a Coppa Italia semi-final against Juventus coming up and a top-four spot in Serie A still very much there for the taking, Sarri is on track to lead his side to another memorable campaign.
But they need help. Six months of football has shown that Lazio’s attacking problems aren’t likely to be solved by a tactical tweak or selection mix-up. New recruits are needed. They rank a shocking 17th in Serie A for shots, which goes some way to underlining how poorly the attack has functioned.
With the defence rediscovering its form of last season and the team showing impressive resilience to grind out results, a sprinkling of quality on top would go a long way.
Lazio might never invest in January, but they have also rarely had such an obvious problem to fix in their squad. It isn’t an easy market and Lotito’s caution is understandable.
But if the Aquile can add a goalscoring midfielder or a more prolific winger before the window closes, it could be the difference between the success or failure of their upcoming battle on three fronts.
Lazio fans won’t be expecting much regardless. But with a momentous four months coming up and a glaringly obvious issue plaguing the team, they have every right to be asking – if not now, when?