With seven games remaining in Serie A, Lazio have managed to leapfrog their bitter rivals Roma in second place, on goal difference. They are having a tremendous season under coach Stefano Pioli. They have some top performers; Antonio Candreva, Marco Parolo, Miroslav Klose and Stefan de Vrij to name a few. The stand-out player for me is Brazilian Felipe Anderson.
In the summer of 2013, Anderson left Brazilian side Santos to showcase his qualities in Europe. Several big clubs such as AC Milan and Bayern Munich were interested in the highly rated attacking midfielder at the time. But it was Lazio who would win his signature and sign for approximately €8 million.
It was a very slow start to life in Italy, he only made a total of thirteen appearances and started just seven league games – failing to score or assist. Many had by then written the Brazilian off, labelling him as just another young South American player who had earned his big move to Europe and failed to prosper.
Now into his second full season, it’s fair to say it’s been nothing short of revolutionary. It took a slice of good fortune for him to get a real chance, when Antonio Candreva was injured back in December. Pioli gambled on him in the Coppa Italia fixture. Four months on, Felipe is now considered as one of the league’s star performers. The midfielder has already registered 10 goals and has been ever present in Lazio’s Champions League chasing campaign.
The 22 year old has an outstanding range of talents, and the most important of them is that he is naturally two footed. The Brazilian is equally comfortable controlling the ball or shooting with either foot, and that – together with his lightning speed and change of direction – makes him a nightmare for his opponents.
The stand out performance for me was when Lazio travelled to Milan to face Inter back in December, the match finished 2-2 – Anderson scored both goals.
After just two minutes the young Brazilian – starting the game on the right flank – received a low cross in the Inter penalty area. With one touch he deftly took the pace off the ball, controlling it and skipping past the Andrea Ranocchia all at once, before firing home firmly with his left foot.
For his second, Anderson then popped on the left flank just before the 40th minute mark. With the ball bouncing just inside the Inter half, Anderson nodded it into his path and advanced at speed. His compatriot, Juan Jesus, came across to cover him, but was evidently aware of Anderson’s pace. Jinking inside the penalty area and on to his right foot and slotted home. Outstanding.
More top performances followed, Lazio’s system seems to suit Anderson – Stefano Pioli has created an effective unit since he took charge last summer, with Anderson now an important component on the right or left wing of a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Unsurprisingly, the likes of Barcelona and PSG have been linked with the Lazio starlet. If he keeps this up, I think it will be difficult for Lazio to hold on to him. Nevertheless, they should receive a big fee, which they can invest in other areas of their squad.
Originally published by O-Posts