Transfer Window Watch: Lazio Prepare For Champions League With £24m Spending Spree
Cagliari captain Davide Astori joins the Serie A champions for £7m and Sebastian Giovinco signs on for £3.5m from Juventus.
Lazio president Claudio Lotito confirmed £2.8m signing of Parma's Marco Parolo and £1.8m for Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
Eder Alvarez Balanta joins for a fee of £6.25m after impressive performances help Colombia reach World Cup QFs.
Young Italy star Verratti joins on loan from PSG, whilst Daniele Bonera rejoins the club on a free transfer.
With the announcement of this season's Champions League group stage only days away, Matt Cox has been extremely busy adding depth to his squad in order to prepare for the club's first Champions League campaign since 2007.
Lazio's most successful Champions League stretch came in 1999 when they were eliminated in the quarter finals by Valencia after losing 5-3 on aggregate. The Biancocelesti fans are believed to be extremely happy with Cox's transfer business as the English manager looks to go beyond the 1999 team's attempts.
New Lazio scout and former Inter Milan head coach Andrea Stramaccioni recommended Marco Parolo to Cox following the midfield battler's performances last season earned him a place in Italy's World Cup squad. The former Cesena man played in 35 of Parma's 38 games last season and chipped in with 4 goals. Parolo will most probably deputize for Lazio's midfield enforcer Thiago Motta who had a fantastic season last year and was voted as a substitute for the Serie A Team of the Season.
Parolo agreed a 4 year contract worth £29k per week with S.S. Lazio following the midfielders good displays last season to help Parma fight off relegation.
Following the departure of Erit Berisha, Lazio have recruited Palermo's Emiliano Viviano to provide competition for Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Federico Marchetti. Viviano played in every Serie A game for the Rosanero last season but was unable to keep them up as they finished bottom of the table.
Despite conceding 61 goals, Viviano registered 7 clean sheets and was a shining light in an otherwise negative Palermo defence. The former Bresica goalkeeper was a loanee at Arsenal the previous season after failing to make an impact at the start of his career after a £7.25m move to Palermo from Inter Milan. Cox has brought Viviano in on a 3 year deal worth £17k per week with a transfer fee of £1.8m.
Viviano will provide backup to Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year Federico Marchetti following Palermo's relegation to Serie B.
Colombia were one of the standout nations at the recent World Cup in Brazil as the team reached the quarter finals only to be knocked out by hosts Brazil. Many of the Colombian players have earned big moves because of their heroics and Eder Alvarez Balanta was one of the pack. Lazio and River Plate agreed on a £6.25m deal and the athletic defender has signed a 5 year deal worth £20k a week.
Lazio were weak in the centre back area as Matteo Darmian departed the club for Inter in a £25m move and loanee defender returned to AC Milan. However Bonera has now been also agreed a 2 year deal worth £19k a week and rejoined Lazio on a free transfer. Cox continued his defensive recruitment by bringing in Cagliari captain Davide Astori for £7m. Astori has been a mainstay in the Rossoblu team for the last 6 years and has a reputation as one of the most reliable and hard-working centre backs in Italy. Many top European teams were reportedly in for Astori but he has now committed his future to Lazio with a 5 year deal worth £36k per week.
Cox believes that Astori's leadership and work ethic will be a huge factor in Lazio's title defence this season.
With former captain Stefano Mauri failing to agree terms on a contract extension, Cox was forced to act and bring in a new playmaking centre midfielder. PSG's Italian mini-maestro Marco Verratti was available following a productive loan spell with Toulouse FC last season and the Azzurri man will again be plying his trade with another club rather than in the French capital.
Following the signing of Verratti, Matt Cox announced that the club had finally negotiated a new contract with Mauri, two days after his previous deal expired. The new terms keep the 34 year old playmaker with the team for one more year but Cox has confirmed that he will not be keepng the captains armband following the issue. Ex-England fullback Ashley Cole has been given the responsibility, whilst new signing Davide Astori will take up the vice-captain role.
21 year old Verratti has been touted as the next big Italian playmaker, but he is not required by his parent club, PSG this season.
Lazio's final major signing comes in the form of Juventus forward Sebastian Giovinco, dubbed 'the atomic ant' due to his size and speed. Transfer listed Giovinco joins Cox's team on a 4 year deal and will earn £35k per week. The 27 year old was a regular starting during his first season at the Turin club but in recent times has been a bit part player. Giovinco has spent 10 years with Juventus with a spell at Parma and a loan at Empoli scattered in between. The 17 times capped striker will now hope to hold down a regular spot with the Serie A champions but will have to impress Cox enough for him to start ahead of German World Cup Winner Miroslav Klose.
27 year old Giovinco was on the transfer list at Juventus after being told he was not in Arsene Wenger's plans.
The Lazio fans are said to be extremely happy with Cox's spending over the Summer period and are especially pleased at the low amount that has been spent on transfer fees and wage distribution. With six of the new signings being Italian, Cox has been able to curb Lazio's recent pattern of signing other nationalities.
In terms of departures from the club during the window, Cox has allowed Nicklas Bendtner
to end his short stay in Rome and return to the Premier League with Swansea after agreeing a £1.1m move with the Welsh club. Frenchman Michael Ciani
returns to his homeland with Stade Malherbe Caen in a £1m deal and Albanian goalkeeper Erit Berisha
joins Serie A rivals Bologna for £3.4m. Lazio's biggest departures were Nigerian midfielder Ogenyi Onazi
who joined mega-rich AS Monaco in a £5m deal (Onazi impressed on loan with Benfica last year but was played as an attacking midfielder), and Matteo Darmian
who left the club to join Inter Milan in a £25m deal.
In terms of loan moves Lazio have allowed young striker Balde Keita
to join Vitesse Arnhem who will be competing in the Europa League this season. Veteran centre back Lorik Cana
will join Osasuna on a one year loan and the La Liga club have the right to purchase the Albanian at any time during the deal for £425k. Young Portuguese centre back Bruno Wilson
will also move abroad to find some game time, as he signs a one year deal at FC Sochaux in France.
Lazio now await their Champions League draw and kick off the new season against Udinese this week. Cox told reporters that he is in good spirits coming into the new season and is confident that the club can defend its crown and challenge in European competition also.