Lazio are set to announce Feyenoord defender Stefan de Vrij as their newest signing, per Sky Italia's Gianluca Di Marzio. The Dutch international is expected to arrive in Italy on Monday night and complete his medical on Tuesday, before signing a five-year contract.
This purchase would be a coup for the Biancocelesti, as Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund were interested, but failed to formulate a deal. For €8.5 million, Lazio could purchase one of the most in-demand young defenders in the world.
The story broke just a day after Roma announced they officially acquired Cagliari's Davide Astori on loan with an option to buy, per Eurosport. Lazio was apparently close to securing a deal for Astori, but then their capital rivals swooped in and acquired the Italian defender.
The signing was a blow to Lazio. They desperately needed a center back after a mediocre 2013-14 season. Giuseppe Biava, Andre Dias, Michael Ciani, Lorik Cana and Diego Novaretti didn't impress, so managers Vladimir Petkovic and Edy Reja split the appearances of these players.
The other negative factor is the age of the players. Biava is 37, Dias is 35 and was eventually released. Cana, Ciani and Novaretti are 31, 30 and 29, respectively. There was no outstanding defender between the five.
This makes the De Vrij transfer even more important for Lazio. They need someone young who can fill in for the departed Dias and the 37-year-old Biava. The Dutchman is 22 and amassed 135 league appearances for Feyenoord, per Soccerway. He's also earned 37 caps for the Netherlands at all levels.
Like many Dutch players, De Vrij has a vast amount of experience at such a young age. He showed that maturity at the 2014 World Cup. Only Spain and England conceded fewer shots per match than the Netherlands, according to Whoscored.com.
De Vrij was also the 10th highest rated Whoscored.com player at the World Cup. Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez was the only defender above him on the list. Out of everyone who played in seven games, the 22-year-old was fourth.
Stefan de Vrij: Only David Luiz (30) won possession in the defensive third at the 2014 World Cup more times than @Stefandevrij (29)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 28, 2014
De Vrij's main attributes are his positioning, tackling and concentration. Those three traits are integral for every center back. These attributes should help a Lazio squad that conceded 54 goals last season in Serie A.
This signing would be another wise investment by Lazio, who have spent the €20 million they made from selling Hernanes to Inter to capture Udinese's Dusan Basta and Parma's Marco Parolo, per Football Italia. They cost a combined €11 million before potential add-ons.
The only issue that remains is the ire among fans toward president Claudio Lotito. The 57-year-old has still called for these same fans to rally behind the team despite the ultras' protests, per Football Italia. Lotito recently backed FIGC presidential candidate Carlo Tavecchio, despite the latter's racial slurs.
Director Igli Tare has also recently received threatening messages from fans. The dispute was over the failure in signing Astori earlier this week.
It's not all roses within the club at this moment, despite their relatively successful transfer window. Supporters will most likely continue to protest against Lotito's running of Lazio, but the team on the pitch should be much improved thanks to De Vrij's arrival.