Why Zenit St. Petersburg Need Lazio Striker Goran Pandev

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IJuly 8, 2009

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 22:  Lazio's forward Goran Pandev in action during 'A Goal For Peace', a charity friendly match between Iraq versus the rest of the world at San Siro Stadium on December 22, 2008 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Zenit St. Petersburg and Serie A side Lazio apparently have a few things in common this summer.

The Powder Blues from Peter's City have already unloaded striker Andrei Arshavin to Arsenal, midfielder/captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk to Bayern Munich, and manager Dick Advocaat to the Belgian national team.

Many words have it that a fair handfull of additional players could also be on their way out of the Petrovsky, including current center-forward Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Lazio seem to be in a similar position.

Star Macedonian striker Goran Pandev seems to be on his way out, but his final destination is still unsure. Juventus, Palermo, and Napoli have all expressed an interest in the forward, but have not made a solid offer.

With Zenit St. Petersburg's growing need for an able striker, Pandev seems to be a primary target. For the time being, Pogrebnyak is still the No. 1 forward. He's the only forward for that matter.

Aging Turkish forward Fatih Tekke has not taken the pitch since early May when he sustained an injury at Rostov. Arshavin is gone. Offensive midfielder Danny has also been bitten by the injury bug.

So why not pursue Pandev?

No price is wrong in this deal. A need for a playmaking forward is glaringly obvious.

Zenit has already offered Lazio a reported 15 million Euros, which is exactly what Lazio had demanded for the Macedonian. But that offer was rejected by a greedy Claudio Lotito, who is now asking for 20 million.

Regardless, it is a price that must be paid.

Zenit has lacked a playmaking forward with some speed and versatility since Arshavin departed for Arsenal several months ago. Now, Pandev is not comparable with Arshavin under any regular circumstances. But he would do his best to bring back that energy and skill that has been missing for some time now.

Pandev, a 25-year-old, has scored 48 goals for Lazio since 2004 and also added 15 goals for Macedonia in 44 career caps.

Lotito has also issued an ultimatum, to every player wishing to leave Lazio, that if they went against his wishes and pursued a transfer but end up staying, they would be relegated to the bench.

Bring Pandev to the Petrovsky. Live long and prosper.

In other transfer news, Zenit has offered a lucrative contract to Atletico Madrid's Luis Garcia, who has underperformed in Spain after returning from Liverpool in 2007. The small forward, who has been an aerial threat all of his career, could be pursuaded to move to Russia if Juande Ramos is the successor to Dick Advocaat.

Garcia's heart still appears in England, even if he ends up playing for a Championship club like West Bromwich Albion.

In the meantime, Zenit has completed it's double of training matches in Austria and Belgium. They began the trip to rainy Vienna where the club defeated Austria Wien 0-1 thanks to a Pavel Pogrebyak goal in the 90th minute.

From there, Advocaat's men headed to Brussels for a showdown with RSC Anderlecht, where they drew at two. Konstantin Zyryanov scored once more in incredible fashion for Zenit and fellow Russian international Igor Semshov scored top shelf in the 75th minute.

Anderlecht would tie the game in stoppage time as vice-captain Jelle Van Damme forced a shot past new Zenit skipper Malafeev.

The Russians will now head home to the friendly confines when they face 2nd place FC Moscow at the Petrovsky on July 12.