Could Zenit Take Advantage of Lazio's Failure to Sell Cristian Ledesma?

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IJanuary 29, 2010

Sometimes during the transfer window, opportunities just seem to fall into place.

Lazio midfielder Cristian Ledesma, who has been rumored to be on his way out of the Roman club, has run into a brick wall in negotiations with powerhouse Inter Milan .

The 27-year-old Argentine has not played a single Serie A match for Lazio during the 2009-10 season, despite being a regular in the starting 11 for the past three years. Much like former Lazio striker Goran Pandev, who left for Internazionale earlier this month, Ledesma has had an ongoing feud with boss Claudio Lotito.

Now, after his efforts to leave the club before the January transfer window closes, Ledesma appears to be quickly running out of options.

First, a move to rival Italian club Genoa fell through due to the fact Ledesma simply cost too much for the Griffins. Inter then made a proposal of €10 million, hoping to secure the services of the talented midfielder. Still, the amount did not meet with Lotito's demands, and for now, all is quiet on the transfer front for the frozen-out Argentine.

It's a no-win situation for both parties.

If a transfer is not reached within the next two days, Lotito will once again fail to cash in on a player on his way out of the club, as Ledesma would be able to walk away as a free agent when the season ends. For Ledesma, it means another four months without seeing first-team action, all but killing any World Cup aspirations he may have had.

However, new Zenit St. Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti might have other ideas about letting that happen.

Ledesma would be a perfect fit in Spalletti's famed 4-2-3-1 formation as a deep-lying midfielder. He would add much needed depth, now that 31-year-old Igor Semshov has returned to Dynamo Moscow, shortening the bench considerably but also allowing Spalletti additional finances.

As it stands at the moment, Zenit's projected two starting central midfielders would be Konstantin Zyryanov and Igor Denisov, but it is no secret Spalletti has desired to add another central midfielder to his squad before the transfer window closes.

If Ledesma is not the perfect man for the job, then nobody is.

While it is unlikely Zenit would be able to get him for a cheap price, a tag of €12 million would not only surpass Inter's offer, but most likely provide Lazio with a last chance at making a profit on the midfielder.

After all, Claudio Lotito is all for a bidding war over his players to chose the best possible option. The main question is if Ledesma would be willing to move from Italy to St. Petersburg. Several South American players have already turned down lucrative moves to Zenit, namely Fluminense star striker Fred.

The facts remain in place however.

Lazio has been brought to its knees by the decisions of Lotito and needs reinforcements quickly. Sitting on 21 points, only two from being in the relegation zone, Lotito needs to spend and raise money for his club.

Ledesma needs an outlet out of Rome much like former Roma boss Spalletti found in Russia's port city. Ledesma would be welcomed with solid playing time, an opportunity to play in the Champions League in 2010, and a place where he could nearly double his current salary thanks to Russian taxes.

How quickly could marauding Zenit sporting director Igor Korneev jump on the situation?

Only time will tell, as his thoughts have been focused on a new striker and center back for the better part of the last two weeks. There is no question he has the money to make the move happen, even on such short notice. He nearly struck a deal with Lotito during the summer for Pandev, only for the Lazio president shoot it down in hopes of receiving a better offer.

That better offer of course, never came, because Pandev left the club in January for free. It would do Lotito well to not let that happen again, and it would do Zenit well to take advantage of this golden opportunity to add a high-class midfielder.